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The Danger of UV light to your Eyes

Winter is officially here, with very cold temperatures this last week. You wouldn't ever think of leaving the house without a heavy sweater or coat in overcast conditions, but unfortunately far too many people don't think to take their sunglasses. While many of us don't think about the glaring sun when we are bundling up against the frigid winter climate, the sun is still a danger in colder climates, and in certain circumstances can be even more powerful.

Following snowfall, the world around takes on a sparkling glow due to the sunlight reflecting off of the snowy cover blanketing the earth. In fact, in many cases it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors after a fresh snow. The ultraviolet radiation that many people are so careful in protecting ourselves against in the summertime can be more dangerous in the wintertime due to the fact that it reflects off the snow or ice, resulting in a second exposure. Fresh snow can reflect 80 percent of UV rays, nearly doubling your overall exposure to solar UV radiation. This is why sunglasses are a necessary part of your winter wardrobe.

While it's important to look great in your shades, the most important consideration when selecting sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays. Make certain your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays by checking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. If you're unsure about the level of UV protection your sunglasses provide, take them to your eye doctor or optician for an evaluation.

Remember to wear sunglasses even when you're in the shade. Although shade reduces your exposure to UV light, your eyes still will be exposed to UV rays reflected from roadways and other surfaces.

A further important feature in choosing sun wear is size. You will have the most protection when the lenses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to get past your sunglasses. Glasses with side shield will also stop harmful rays from sneaking in through the periphery.

Kids also need to protect their eyes from the sun. Children generally spend much more time outdoors than adults.  Some experts say that because children tend to spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, up to half of a person's lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18.

Wearing appropriate UV protective eyewear year-round can keep your eyes safe from damage, while keeping you having fun in the sun!