“If you don’t wear sunglasses you are going to get crow’s feet.”
Every time I pick up my sunglasses or pack for a trip, I can still hear my Mom’s words, and I can’t help but laugh. Her threat of wrinkles was enough to get me to wear sunglasses constantly, but protecting our eyes is about so much more than just the prevention of wrinkles.
Recently, I attended a webinar hosted by The Vision Council to learn about the importance of protecting our eyes while we are on the road. To my surprise, forty percent of adults do not wear sunglasses, and considering the consequences, that number is way too high.
The sun’s rays can cause both short term and long term damage. Short term damage may include sunburn of the eye, swelling, irritation, and hyper sensitivity to light. While all of these are inconvenient, the real damage comes later on. Long term damage includes premature aging, abnormal growth, sunspots, wrinkles, cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancers on or around the eye. It’s serious business, which is why we all need to place more importance on protecting our eyes.
Unfortunately, UV damage is cumulative, which is why getting an early start is important. If you are someone who travels with kids, you need to make sure that your little ones are also wearing sunglasses. It may not always be easy to ensure they are wearing them, but the fact that we acquire nearly eighty percent of our lifetime exposure to UV rays before we turn eighteen, it’s important to at least encourage eye protection.
Often, location also plays a major role in the UV rays we are exposed to. As I was informed during the webinar, the top three locations in the United States that have the highest UV levels year-round are San Juan, Honolulu, and Miami. While those locations may not be surprising, due to their almost year-round days of sunshine, it’s important to note that altitude can also play a role in exposure. If you are planning on skiing or hiking, you should be aware that when the atmosphere is thin, you are more at risk for UV rays. Some international destinations with high UV levels include Australia, Italy, the Philippines, Chile, and Argentina.
The damage that the sun can cause our eyes is just as bad as the damage it can cause our skin, which is why we need to be as conscious about wearing sunglasses as we are about wearing sun block. While damage may not be reversible, it’s as simple as putting on a pair of shades, no matter where in the world you are going, whether it’s winter or summer, and ensuring that from this day forward no more damage can be done.
With so many cute styles out there, you should be able to find protection that looks good while it’s keeping you safe from the sun’s damaging rays. Just be sure to buy your sunglasses from a reputable store, and if you ever have any doubts about the protection your lenses offer, you should see your eye doctor and have them checked.
You only get one pair of eyes to see this beautiful world with, so make sure they are protected each time you step outside your door. One day, you’ll be grateful you did.