When bundling up for winter weather, you probably have all the necessary gear ready to go: hats, gloves, boots, a scarf and a warm coat. What many people don’t realize is that they need sun protection, too. The fall and winter months may mean cooler temperatures, but UV protection remains essential.
Whether you’re hitting the slopes, going hiking or just driving around town, make sure you have a reliable pair of sunglasses for the winter months. Below you’ll find more information about why UV protection is important year-round.
How UV Light Affects the Eyes
UV radiation comes from the natural sunlight, as well as artificial sources like tanning beds and mercury vapor lighting. Most people understand the link between UV exposure and skin damage, but they’re not as aware of UV radiation and eye damage.
Both short- and long-term UV light exposure can affect the eyes in a number of ways:
- Macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease caused by damage to the retina over time. Frequent UV radiation increases your risk for macular degeneration.
- Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. UV light increases your chances for certain types of cataracts.
- Skin cancer. The delicate skin around the eyelids can also suffer damage from prolonged UV exposure.
- Pterygium. Otherwise known as “surfer’s eye,” this non-cancerous growth is more likely to occur in people who spend a lot of time in the sun.
- Photokeratitis. Photokeratitis or “snow blindness” is a short-term symptom of UVB exposure. It can be painful and even cause temporary vision loss.
Why UV Protection is Essential in the Winter
Even though the sun sits lower in the winter than it does in the summer, the sun’s rays are still strong year-round. We know that regular UV radiation can cause damage to the cornea, lens and eyelid skin, so it’s imperative that you continue wearing your UV-blocking sunglasses.
Not only should your sunglasses have UVA and UVB protection, but they should also have protection from high-energy visible (HEV) rays. Not to mention, these glasses will offer protection from glares that can impact your vision while driving or playing winter sports. They can also protect your eyes from drying out on windy days.
While the winter may appear to be dark and gloomy, the sun is still there giving off UV light. Whenever you step outdoors, be sure to have a pair of sunglasses on hand. They’ll make your vision safe and comfortable while also protecting your eyes from UV damage.