Most people associate sunglasses with Summer or trips to the beach. The fact is that sunglasses should be worn even in the Winter. The eyes are susceptible to UV damage even on cloudy days or colder months. Besides sunrays, reflection from snow can cause eyestrain, glare, and impaired vision. Choose sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection for optimal results.
The sun produces ultraviolet rays that are harmful not just to the skin but also to the eyes. Even in the Winter, prolonged exposure to UV rays can increase the chances of developing eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. UV rays can also cause photokeratitis or corneal sunburn, pterygium, and skin cancer around the eyelids. Wearing sunglasses in the Winter helps block harmful rays, keeping the eyes safe. They can also protect the skin from wrinkling.
Glare occurs when sunlight obstructs the view, making it difficult to see after exposure to intense light. It usually occurs during sunrise or sunset and is usually worse when the sun is low on the horizon. Glare can be worse during the Fall and Winter as the sun reflects at a low angle.
During Winter, glare can make driving, walking, or skiing difficult as snow and ice produce bright reflections. Wearing sunglasses helps significantly reduce glare, ensuring safety when walking or driving. They also help keep the eyes comfortable.
Many people experience dry eyes during the Winter. For people with dry eye syndrome, the climate exacerbates the symptoms. Cold air, wind, and dust lead to eye irritation and cause the tear film to evaporate rapidly. Reduced tear production leaves the eyes dry and uncomfortable.
During windy days, dust particles in the air can scratch the eye surface, causing corneal abrasions. Wearing sunglasses reduces tear evaporation, maintaining natural moisture. They also allow people who are wearing contact lenses to avoid excessive dryness.
Most people complain of eyestrain and headaches during the Winter. The pupils constrict automatically in bright lighting and dilate in dim lighting. Inadequate or extremely bright lighting can lead to eyestrain as the pupils fail to adjust to a comfortable level.
The light-sensitive retina reacts to extremely bright winter light or snow. The pupils do not constrict adequately to reduce light exposure. It results in eyestrain, squinting, and headaches. Sunglasses help reduce the amount of light reaching the eyes.
Snow and ice are highly reflective surfaces that increase UV radiation. Many Winter sports take place in high altitudes, where UV rays are strongest. The combination of a reflective snow surface and high altitude increases the risk of eye sunburn. The condition known as photokeratitis or snow blindness causes temporary vision loss. Wearing sunglasses in Winter while skiing or snowboarding can help prevent snow blindness and vision-related headaches.
It is vital to invest in a good pair of sunglasses during the Winter. It will help ensure you protect your eyes during the cold weather. Schedule an eye exam where your eye doctor can offer tips on how to keep your eyes safe and comfortable throughout the year but also specifically during Winter.
For more on why it is good to wear sunglasses in the Winter, call Optical Masters at (720) 807-7300 or (720) 807-7600 to schedule an appointment.