Summer means spending time outside at the beach, playing with the kids at the park, or a leisurely stroll catching up with a friend. Before you head out into the Florida sunshine, it’s become a habit to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from ultra-violet (UV) exposure. However, your eyes need protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays as well.

Sunglasses can shield your eyes from UV rays, but not all sunglasses are created equal. While your shades may look cool, if they aren’t filtering out the sun, save them for selfies. Everyone is at risk of vision damage due to harmful UV rays, especially in the summer when the UV levels are three times stronger than they are in winter. UV eye protection is essential to preserve the health of your eyes. Radiation from the sun can damage many parts of the eye including the eyelid, cornea, and lens. Studies by the National Institutes of Health shed some light on how prolonged UV exposure can lead to permanent vision damage: ● Premature macular degeneration may be a result of UV exposure ● 3.2 million people go blind each year because of excessive UV exposure ● 20% of cataract cases (4 million) are due to UV exposure However, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes and keep them healthy. The Mayo Clinic recommends choosing sunglasses that: ● Provide 99-100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are associated with sunburn, UVA rays are associated with skin aging and damage. Both types of UV rays have the potential to cause vision damage. ● Have polarized lenses. Not only do they completely block UV rays, but they also eliminate glare and allow you to see clearly and comfortably while outside. ● Screen out 75-90% of visible light ● Are classified as wraparound or close-fitting with wide lenses to protect your eyes from all angles.

If you wear contacts, there are manufacturers that offer lenses with some UV protection. To maximize protection, sunglasses should still be worn to limit UV exposure. At Carson Optical, we pride ourselves on precision eyewear selection and manufacturing. We carry a full line of prescription sunglasses from the top designers. Stop by our store, conveniently located at 201 S. Kings Avenue in Bradenton, to view our full selection of sunglasses. To make an appointment with one of our eye care professionals, call 813-681-3863 or fill out our appointment request form.