Sight and lifesaving sunglasses

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NEW YORK, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You slather on SPF 50 to protect your skin from the sun, but how do you protect your eyes? A recent survey says less than half of 10,000 Americans polled know the health benefits of the right kind of sunglasses, but your favorite summer accessory could save your life.

Sunglasses make you look good, but would you trust them to save your life?

“The skin around your eye is some of the most vulnerable to the sun, both in terms of just sun damage, but also in terms of developing cancers, like melanomas, or basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas,” Jack Cioffi, MD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Ten percent of skin cancers are found on the eyelid. However, it’s not just cancer, too much sun can cause photokeratitis, or sunburn of the cornea, cataracts, and blinding eye diseases.

“There’s great evidence that macular degeneration is accelerated by unprotected sun exposure,” Dr. Cioffi said.

So, how can you play it safe in the sun? First off, buy sunglasses with 99 percent to 100 percent UVA or UV 400 protection with large lenses that fit close to your eyes. Just because the tag says “polarizing lenses,” doesn’t guarantee that they will protect you from the harmful rays.

Dark lenses are not always the best. They cause your pupils to dilate more, allowing more UVA radiation in. For extra assurance, look for the skin cancer foundation’s seal of recommendation and don’t be cheap. Spending a little extra today could save your sight tomorrow.

Sunglasses are not just for grownups. The risk for retinal damage from the sun’s rays is greatest in children less than 10-years-old because their eyes are still developing. Everyone, young and old, should wear sunglasses outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even if it’s cloudy.