Tip of the Week: Why Sunglasses are Essential

If you like what you see—and want to keep it that way—you'll also want to grab a pair of shades on your way out the door in the morning. Summer heralds fun times in the sun, but it also triples the intensity of ultra-violet (UV) rays, in comparison to milder winter beams. Exposure to this harmful radiation spurs the onset of macular degeneration (changes to the part of the retina that is responsible for sharp vision), as well as cataracts—a condition that causes vision loss for some 20 million Americans over 40 and is a leading cause of blindness in the world. Children are the most susceptible to sun damage, since their eyes are not fully developed. So head to the store and look for glasses that block at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B light (that information is usually available on the price tag).

The better the lenses wrap around your eyes, the more they prevent radiation from spilling in around the sides. Tints that are gray, green or brown are ideal for blocking out visible light. Make sure the glass is matched in color and undistorted, because imperfections can confuse your pupils and leave your eyes unsafely exposed. And since UV damage is cumulative, you should be wearing sunglasses anytime you're in the sun. For more information on UV radiation and buying glasses, go to the American Optometric Association Web site.

Noelle Chun

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