Defend Your Eyesight: Exploring the Advantages of Polarized vs. UV Protection Sunglasses

You probably already knew that the sun could damage your skin, but did you know it can also affect your vision? Wearing sunglasses is just as crucial as applying your daily sunblock. The sun’s harmful rays can cause or worsen existing vision problems. Exposure to UV rays without wearing proper UV protection can lead to increased risks of cataracts, ocular cancers, and macular degeneration. 

There are a variety of lenses available, which can be overwhelming when trying to decide on a new pair of sunglasses. This article will discuss the differences between UV protection and polarized lenses, so continue reading to learn more.

Why Wearing Sunglasses Outdoors is a Must

The sun’s damage to your eyes is cumulative over your lifetime, so it's never too early to start protecting your eyes with UV or polarized lenses. People with light-colored eyes are especially encouraged to wear sunglasses, as they are more at risk for ocular damage

Rain or Shine: Wear Your Sunglasses Year-Round

Even though the weather may seem particularly gloomy, proper eye protection outdoors is still essential. UV rays can penetrate the clouds, allowing them to reach and potentially harm your eyes. 

What Are UV Protection Lenses?

UV-protected lenses can help shield your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays but won’t help reduce or eliminate annoying glare. This glare can interfere with your ability to see clearly and cause eye fatigue. Ultraviolet light is radiation energy emitted by the sun. Rays from the sun are most damaging between 10 am to 4 pm. There are three primary types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB rays are the only UV rays that are strong enough to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. The most damaging type of UV rays is UVB. Exposure to these UV rays can cause skin cancer, snow blindness, skin aging, and even weaken the immune system. 

When shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, look for 99-100% UV protection lenses. Sunglasses with UV protection should be labeled with manufacturer's tags that provide information on the amount of UV protection they contain. Those labeled as "UV absorption up to 400nm" mean they have 100 percent UV protection. UV lenses cannot offer protection from every light source. Tanning beds, snowy fields, or solar eclipses require special eyewear. 

The Benefits of Progressive Lenses

Unlike basic UV protection lenses, polarized lenses give your eyes an added advantage by reducing glare that interferes with vision. In addition to reducing glare, these lenses provide clearer vision in bright environments. Most polarized sunglasses also include UV protection. Always check the label to ensure they offer maximum UV protection, which is protection from 99-100% of UV rays. Some of the benefits of wearing polarized lenses include:

  • More precise, sharper vision with less color distortion

  • Helping sharpen your vision on foggy or partly cloudy days

  • Reducing eye fatigue and eyestrain

  • Keeping your eyes healthy

  • Minimizing glare that bounces off reflective surfaces like water, car windows, pavement, or shiny surfaces

What To Look For When Buying Sunglasses

Keep these tips in mind when shopping for polarized or UV-protected sunglasses: 

  • A darker lens doesn’t always mean more protection

  • Larger or wrap-around lenses offer the most protection

  • Colored lenses may provide more contrast, which can be helpful when playing sports

  • Although mirror or metallic finishes don’t always protect against ultraviolet rays, they do help cut down on the amount of incoming visible light

Plastic lenses are safer than glass lenses, as they’re less likely to shatter when struck. We recommend purchasing polycarbonate sunglasses if you play sports, as they are more durable than standard plastic lenses. EyeCare Associates recommends purchasing polarized lenses treated with a UV-protective coating. This allows you to receive the benefits of both UV protection and polarized lenses.

Get Your Sunglasses with the EyeCare Associates

Keep your vision protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays with a pair of sunglasses from your local EyeCare Associates. You’ll find that we have a large selection of designers and frame styles. Find an EyeCare Associates location near you or browse our online store.

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