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Now that school is out for summer break we have already spent several hours logging in some pool time. Although I am very diligent about making sure we all apply sunscreen regularly, I’m not always great at remembering that sun exposure to your eyes can be a cumulative danger over the years.
I’ve been wearing ACUVUE brand contact lenses for years and for several years. I’ve partnered up with ACUVUE to help spread the word about their UV blocking contact lenses.
A number of studies have shown that the effects of UV radiation are mostly cumulative and may increase the chance of developing eye problems later in life, including cataracts, a leading cause of reduced vision in the United States. While UV-blocking contact lenses are beneficial in helping to protect against harmful UV rays entering into the eye, long-term clinical studies have not been done to show that they directly reduce the risk of any specific eye disease or condition. Still, any proactive steps I can take to protect my eyes and my family’s eyes is important to me.
Did you know that children and teens are at risk of greater UV exposure than any other age group? Children have larger pupils (allowing more light into their eyes), clearer lenses, and typically spend more time outdoors without eye protection and for longer periods of time than most adults. It is estimated that a significant amount of lifetime exposure to UV rays may occur by age 18 and that children’s annual dose of UV radiation is three times that of adults.
When it comes to UV exposure, however, it’s not just direct sunlight that does damage. Reflected ultraviolet (UV) rays from surfaces such as grass, soil, dry sand, water, and snow can also be harmful. Today at the pool my older daughter forgot her sunglasses and kept asking to borrow mine. The reflected sun off the water can be brutal! UV protection also is important on a cloudy day as the sun’s rays can pass through thin clouds, exposing your eyes to harmful UV radiation. Just as you can still get sunburned on an overcast day, your eyes can still be exposed to UV rays.
I always wear sunglasses at the pool or when outdoors on a sunny day, especially when driving. While sunglasses are definitely a good idea when it comes to eye protection, not all sunglasses are created equal. Choose sunglasses that limit transmission to no more than 1 percent UVB and 1 percent UVA rays. Sometimes the information on the glasses will say they block at least 99 percent of the UV rays.
Here are three things to look for when buying sunglasses:
- Lenses large enough to completely cover the eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering through the edges of the glasses. Wrap-around sunglasses are best.
- Darker lenses, particularly if you are more light sensitive.
- Gray lenses. They provide the least color distortion, but not any better protection than other colored lenses. While most sunglasses can help block UV rays from entering through the lenses, most frame styles do not prevent rays from reaching the sides, top and bottom of the glasses
UV blocking contact lenses can provide an important level of additional protection from UV exposure. Not all contact lenses offer UV protection, and, of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels. ACUVUE® is the only major brand of contact lenses which blocks approximately 97%of UV-B and 81% of UV-A rays as standard across the entire range of its products.*
Want to learn more about how you can protect your eyes from UV exposure? Visit Fast Facts for Your Health: The Sun & Your Eyes: What You Need to Know on the ACUVUE® website.