Sunglasses are all the rage right now! This is great news for eye doctors who treat patients for eye diseases caused by sun exposure! However sunglasses are now available everywhere: at the grocery store, in gas stations and even at street vendors. Inevitably, many people will pick up these cheap but stylish frames on a particularly sunny day while vacation at the beach and believe they are the real deal!
So the question is ‘are all sunglasses created equal?’ Answer: Absolutely not! In fact, Australia’s largest health insurer, Bupa, is warning consumers that OTC sunnies should come with a warning label.
Sunglasses that do not protect you from UVA and UVB can actually do more harm than good according to a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. These pairs will cause the pupils to dilate behind them, the same effect that you get in a dark room. However, if there is no UV blocking technology, the result is that the pupils are now 3 times larger, allowing 3x more harmful UV rays to reach the inside of the eye. When compared to the much smaller pupil when you are not wearing sunglasses, wearing those cheap sunglasses does more harm than if you were not wearing sunglasses at all!
Sunglass lenses without UV protection are only filtering out bright light, which may make you feel more comfortable, but do nothing to protect the eye tissues. The most important benefit of a good pair of sunglasses is they also filter out the UV rays that cause, skin/eye cancer, macular degeneration, growths on the eyeball (pinguecula), cataracts, and a host of other eye related diseases. Unfortunately, less reputable sources may even have stickers that falsely claim to protect from UV damage.
To be sure that you are getting a pair of sunglasses that meets FDA standards, make sure you shop at reputable sources! Steer clear of places that cannot guarantee their products are safe. These include street vendors, gas stations, and yes that super cute pair at your favorite clothing store. Optical stores in the United States are required to carry lenses that filter out UV and even have polarized lenses to greatly reduce the glare so you know that everything they offer is safe. When in a trustworthy shop you can also look for stickers that state that they are protecting you from both UVA and UVB, and when in doubt, ASK!
At Visionelle Eyecare, every pair of sunnies we carry protects from UVA and UVB, so no matter what, you are 100% covered!