When you're choosing sunglasses, does UV protection matter?
Answers from Cheryl Khanna, M.D.
Yes, ultraviolet (UV) eye protection matters. UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts, growths on the eye and possibly macular degeneration.
To protect your eyes, look for sunglasses that:
- Block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays
- Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light
- Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions and imperfections
- Have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition
The color and degree of darkness sunglasses provide have nothing to do with the sunglasses' ability to block UV rays. Also, opt for wraparound sunglasses or close-fitting sunglasses with wide lenses that protect your eyes from every angle. Some contact lenses also offer UV protection, but should be worn in combination with sunglasses to maximize protection.
April 21, 2016
- Wang SQ, et al. Photoprotection: A review of the current and future technologies. Dermatologic Therapy. 2010;23:31.
- Tuchinda C, et al. Photoprotection by window glass, automobile glass, and sunglasses. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2006;54:845.
- Dang S. How to choose the best sunglasses. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/top-sunglasses-tips. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- Turbert D. Sunglasses: Protection from UV eye damage. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/sunglasses-3. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- UV protection with contact lenses. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/x12724.xml. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- Prevent eye damage: Protect yourself from UV radiation. https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/prevent-eye-damage-protect-yourself-uv-radiation. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- UV protection. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/uv-protection?sso=y. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- Walsh JE, et al. Does the eye benefit from wearing ultraviolet-blocking contact lenses? Eye & Contact Lens. 2011;37:267.