Nobody likes sunburned skin and most of us are pretty good at using sunscreen, but UV rays can make your eyes miserable too without quality sunglasses. Sun damage can even cause sunburn of the eye so if your eyes hurt after a day in the sun, your favorite sunglasses may be the culprit. Sunglasses actually differ in quality and apparently have unofficial expiration dates so it may be time to ditch yours.
Quality Sunglasses: Not all sunglasses are created equal.
Few Americans consider sun safety a priority when they shop for sunglasses. In fact, less than one-third of Americans deliberately try to protect their eyes from the sun and most people care more about fashion. Generally, low-quality glasses offer less protection. Remember – stylish shades are fun, but not always functional.
If you want to protect your eyes, follow these tips:
- UVA/UVB—Look for 100% protection from both UVA and UVB (“UV absorption up to 400 nm” should be on the label)
- 75-90% of visible light should be filtered out, so look for a label indicating this level of protection
- Lighter shades—Dark lenses are not necessarily safer and may be doing more harm than good. The darkness forces your pupils to dilate instead of constricting in response to bright sunlight, so your eyes get a bigger dose of harmful UV light. Ouch!
- Replace older sunglasses—Even sunglasses with UV protection eventually lose their ability to filter out harmful rays. According to recent findings, you may need a new pair every two years or so to maintain strong UV protection for your eyes. If you are keeping around an older pair, consider getting a new one now.
Blinded By The Light? Feel Burned? It’s Photokeratitis!
Sunburned eyes hurt and may need medical help. If your eyes feel uncomfortable and they were exposed to too much sun, you may have photokeratitis (a word that sounds scary and, unsurprisingly, isn’t much fun for our eyes). Often, this condition heals without permanent damage, although in some cases excessive sun exposure can burn the cornea and result in higher risks of macular degeneration.
Symptoms of photokeratitis:
- Blurry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Twitchy eyelids
- Temporary loss of vision
Treatment for Sunburned Eyes
For sunburned eyes, your doctor may recommend self-care strategies you can use at home to relieve your symptoms while your eyes heal. If they’re not improving, you may want to see optometrist Dr. Joe Schneiderhan at Glenwood Family Eye Center.
For a high-quality pair of sunglasses, with or without prescription, that protects your eyes and fits your lifestyle, Glenwood Family Eye Center can help. To learn more about choosing the right sunglasses before you visit, read “A How-To Guide When Selecting Sunglasses.” Being smart and sun safe will keep you enjoying the outdoors.