Your Eyes From The Sun
Lori Brenig, MPH
is here! Why do I need sunglasses, and what kind of sunglasses
should I wear?
Everyone who has had a painful sunburn knows how much damage the
sun can do to our skin; the sun can also damage our eyes. The
“sunburn rays” are called ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and include
two types of damaging rays: UV-A and UV-B. Some of the damage
can happen right away, and some can be over a lifetime of exposure.
Good quality sunglasses help to protect your eyes from harmful
UV radiation. When you buy sunglasses, look for a statement on
how much UV radiation they block from reaching the eyes. The more
UV rays that are blocked the better. Experts say that your sunglasses
should block 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Also,
lenses should block at least 70 percent of visible light. If you
are in intense light, such as at the beach or on snow, you should
choose sunglasses that block all but 10-15 percent of visible
light. It’s often hard to tell how much protection sunglasses
provide since manufacturers do not always state the amount of
UV radiation and visible they block. Read the labels carefully.
And, don’t forget to wear a hat – a brim protects your eyes from
What about my children?
Make sure the sunglasses fit well (on the head and around the
nose) and are not damaged. The glasses should be impact-resistant,
polycarbonate lenses, and should be bendable, unbreakable and/or
have snap-on temples. Children’s sunglasses should never be made
of glass, unless required by their eye doctor. And the lenses
should be large enough to shield the eyes from most angles. Be
sure to put a wide-brimmed hat on your child, too.
Brenig is Program Director, Prevent Blindness New York. For more
information on finding an eye care professional near you, or if
you have difficulty paying for your child’s eye care, please contact
her at 212-980-2020, x13.
If you would like to make a donation to help children get the
necessary eye care, please send to: New York City Children’s Vision
Coalition, 149 Madison Avenue, Suite 805, New York, NY 10016.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
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the publisher. © 2001.