Unlike most accessories, sunglasses are far more than just a stylish trend. Volumes of research have shown they help protect our eyes against harmful UV rays and other forms of radiation, which can later contribute to cataracts, pingueculae, pterygia and photokeratitis. And there’s more — new research has found that exposure to the sun’s “blue light,” or high-energy visible (HEV) radiation, may increase our risk of macular degeneration.
We know it’s a lot to think about, which is why Real Kids Shades has taken the time to break down UV Protection for every age to understand.
How Do Sunglasses Really Protect Against Ultraviolet Radiation?
Think of our shades as protective, transparent walls around your eyes. Not only do they block 100 percent of UV rays, while absorbing most HEV rays, but they also work to continually limit the amount of sunlight that reaches your eyes. What most people fail to realize, however, is that UV rays are technically invisible to the naked eye. We can’t see them, and therefore, we assume nothing is there. But that’s never the case.
What Are Factors to Look Out For?
If you stay outside for long periods of time, your risk of eye problems due to UV radiation is higher. The same can be said for certain geographic locations. For example, UV levels are generally greater in tropical areas that surround the earth’s equator, and regions at high altitudes. The time of day you go outside is another important factor. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UV and HEV levels are typically greater, because they rise relative to when the sun is higher in the sky. That said, if you are routinely exposed to the aforementioned settings, you’ll want to consider high-quality shades that protect you year-round.
Why Do Kids Need More UV Protection Than Adults?
Put simply, children tend to spend more time outdoors. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that past research has shown “up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation” can occur by the age of 18. The lens inside of a child’s eye also tends to be clearer than adults, allowing UV rays to more easily penetrate the eye and cause retinal damage.
Why Should Everyone Care?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) currently estimates that only 40 percent of Americans wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from sun damage. That is a staggeringly low number, and one that Real Shades Kids is working to improve by offering education and fashionable sunglass options for people of all ages.