Beyond Fashion: Why You Gotta Wear Shades
sunglasses may cost you less, but are they just as likely to protect
against the effects of harmful UV rays as expensive sunglasses?
to Dr. Donald J. D'Amico, chair of ophthalmology at
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, there is no
certain way for consumers to be sure they are getting ultraviolet or UV
protection from their sunglasses – even if they are labeled "UV
absorbing" or "UV blocking." Cost is no indicator of UV protection. An
expensive pair of sunglasses does not guarantee sufficient protection
from the sun.
is no government regulating power for the classification of
sunglasses," says Dr. D'Amico. As a result, company information may
misrepresent how much protection their sunglasses offer; and,
unfortunately, consumers sometimes assume all sunglasses have
protection if they are dark in color.
Stephen Trokel, an ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian
Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, advises that consumers buy
sunglasses from reputable companies to ensure that they block both UVA
and UVB rays. Another tip is to pair sunglasses with a large-brimmed
hat to protect the eyes from sunlight that may enter from above and
from the sides of glasses. Wraparound sunglasses and those with large
temples also provide important side protection.
are not just a fashion statement; their lenses block harmful UV rays
that, in severe cases, can cause permanent damage to the eyes in the
form of cataracts, pterygium and possibly retinal degeneration.
Dr. D'Amico and Dr. Trokel caution that consumers should be aware of the following:
- Persons with light-colored eyes, such as blue and green, are often more sensitive to bright sunlight than darker eye shades.
who wear contact lenses are least likely to want to wear sunglasses;
however, sunglasses are helpful from preventing the drying effect most
contact lens wearers get from warm wind; UV protection in contact
lenses are the most effective in blocking all UV entering the eye.
not always true, the darkness of sunglasses will indicate greater UV
protection -- at least if they comply with the ANSI Z80.3 industry
window tints are not a replacement for sunglasses; however, windshields
screen out and are very effective in absorbing both UVA and UVB rays
(because of the internal shatter-proof laminate).
addition, Dr. D'Amico and Dr. Trokel emphasize that you are never too
young to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Parents should
purchase UV-protected sunglasses for their children with wraparound
design and keep infants' eyes shaded.
For more information on the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, visit www.nyp.org.