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Beyond Skin: Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays

Ultraviolet Awareness Month probably slipped your mind as you were busy celebrating the Fourth of July, but it's a good time to remind you of the importance thinking not just about protecting your skin from harmful rays but also your eyes. Choosing the right sunglasses can help. If your specs are more stylish than practical, it might be time to trade them in for a pair that offers significant protection against harmful UV rays from the sun. Not having sunglasses that offer proper UV protection is the same as not wearing any sunglasses at all.

Most people aren't even aware of the connection between sun exposure and eye damage. Part of the blame for the lack of communication about UV effects on eyes is the success of various campaigns focusing on the dangers of skin damage from UV rays. Little is mentioned about protecting your eyes.

If you ask most people why they wear sunglasses, health reasons isn't likely to be the first response. Few people see a connection between sunglasses and potential health benefits.

Too much exposure to UV rays can damage your eyes in many ways. Short-term symptoms may include blurriness, general discomfort or pain, and eye irritation. Long-term symptoms may include cataracts, some forms of cancer, and macular degeneration. Prolonged UV exposure may lead to long-term vision loss and other serious eye issues. Unfortunately, any vision loss is difficult to reverse.

You want lenses with 99-100 percent protection from UVB and UVA rays. Smaller designer sunglasses don't usually offer the same protection as the bigger Jackie Onassis style sunglasses. Basically, the more coverage you have, the better. Those cool mirror-like sunglasses block visible light just fine, but not UV light. If you don't see some indication of UV protection on sunglasses, they're just for fashion - and not much else.

You're not limited to just wearing sunglasses with the right UV protection though. You can find contact lenses offering some form of UV protection, but the entire surface of the eye isn't fully protected. Another option is to combine UV-protective contacts with UV shades. This will give you the added UV protection you need. Another option is prescription sunglasses. Whatever option you choose, your eyes will certainly appreciate the extra protection as you enjoy the summer.
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