So you’ve broken out the heavy-duty jackets and scarves and put away all those warm season staples like shorts and short sleeves. You’re watching athletes from all over the world glide through that fresh powder and are inspired to grab those skies and do the same. Nice work! We are rooting for you. But before you also stash away your sunglasses, you should know the risks of not protecting your eyes before you hit the slopes this year.
The Elements of Winter
Wind, glare, and ultraviolet radiation exposure are most prevalent in the winter. While the skies may gray, the clouds are no match to those powerful UV radiation rays. If you plan on spending time in the snow, that beautiful white powder can reflect almost 80 percent of UV radiation. And your overall exposure is nearly doubled when shoveling, skiing, or snowboarding—yikes!
Did you know our skin and our eyes are organs? This makes them susceptible to the elements, which means that like our skin, our eyes can become sunburned from prolonged exposure. Sunburned eyes can cause intense pain, discomfort and even temporary vision loss known as snow blindness. And the damage can build up over time, resulting in permanent sun damage in the form of yellowish spots on the eye called pinguecula. Cataracts and macular degeneration are some of the other long-term effects linked to prolonged UV exposure.
Goggles or wraparound sunglasses with a foam liner are best to block out drying wind. When it comes to the lenses themselves, try to purchase polarized lenses that absorb glare and prevent fatigue by allowing your eyes to relax. If you’re a big skier or snowboarder, look for brown or amber tints to enhance depth perception and contrast. Yellow tints can help provide greater clarity in foggy or hazy conditions. There are some great selections over at Dragon Alliance that have all the elements for protection as well as beautiful design.
Always check the label on the eyewear you’re considering and choose a pair of sunglasses with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection. It’s an FDA requirement that all sunglasses must be properly labeled with SPF information, so if you fall in love with a pair without any specifications, it’s best to err on the side of caution and instead purchase a pair that is inaccurately labeled.
Want to add your prescription to your sunglasses or goggles? Your optometrist is a great resource for guidance on what will work and how to purchase. Find a VSP Network Doctor near you.
Regardless of the time of year, sporting the right eyewear is important for your overall eye health. Avoid short and long-term effects of UV rays (and look stylish) by simply throwing on a pair of shades year-round!