Although many people associate sunglasses with the hot, sunny days of summer, the reality is that protective eyewear should be worn throughout the year, even in winter. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t leave the house without a pair of sunglasses, no matter the time of year.
1. Protect your eyes from UV rays
Regardless of the season, the sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that can harm your eyes and increase your risk of cataracts, eye growths, skin cancer and wrinkles. What’s more, snow reflects up to 80 per cent of the sun’s UV light, effectively doubling your exposure. Protecting your eyes from UV radiation is just as important as putting on sunscreen to protect your skin. For this reason, optometrists recommend wearing polarized sunglasses that offer 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection, even on cloudy days. Unlike standard sunglasses that simply reduce the intensity of light, polarized sunglasses are coated with a chemical filter that blocks light waves bouncing off horizontal surfaces to drastically reduce glare and improve colour accuracy.
2. Prevent snow blindness
If you enjoy skiing, snowshoeing and other outdoor winter activities, investing in effective eye protection is a good idea. Snow blindness is a temporary but painful eye condition caused by overexposure to UV rays. It often happens in winter, especially at high elevations, when the sun reflects off snow and ice. It causes a variety of symptoms, including: • Redness • Pain • Swelling • Headaches • Tearing • Blurred vision • Eyelid twitching • Sensitivity to bright light • Gritty feeling in the eye To prevent this from happening to you, look for eye protection like sunglasses, or even photochromic lenses that automatically adapt to changing light conditions for better visual accuracy. These lenses eliminate the need to carry around a pair of sunglasses wherever you go, so you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about UV exposure. Moreover, wearing eye protection while engaging in winter sports helps shield your eyes from flying particles that can cause corneal abrasions. Eye protection also prevents the cold temperatures from constricting the blood vessels and freezing your cornea.
3. Safety when driving
On top of causing discomfort and squinting, sun glare can be extremely dangerous while driving. In winter, the risk of sun glare is even higher since snow and ice create more reflective surfaces. It can obstruct your view of other vehicles, traffic signals, road conditions and pedestrians. The intense brightness can also cause headaches and eye strain, which can make you less alert behind the wheel. When choosing a pair of sunglasses for winter driving, ensure the lens tint provides good contrast, clear colour distinction and visibility in both sunny and cloudy conditions. For example, brown and grey-tinted lenses are most effective at cutting light intensity without distorting colours in most conditions.
4. Reduce the risk of eye disease
Did you know prolonged overexposure to UV rays can deteriorate the cells in your eyes and lead to serious conditions such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and eyelid cancer? Moreover, excessive exposure to sun and wind can cause pinguecula, non-cancerous growths on the mucous membrane that covers your eye. Wearing sunglasses in winter can also prevent the bright sun and cold wind from drying out your eyes. Dry eye happens when the films and tear ducts of your eyes fail to produce sufficient amounts of moisture, which can affect the clarity of your vision and the quality of your sight. That’s why it’s important to be proactive about your eye health throughout the year.
Get Polarized Sunglasses for Snow and Winter Conditions in Alberta
At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., we want to give you and your family the tools you need to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear. In addition to regular and prescription sunglasses, we carry a wide selection of eyeglasses, contact lenses and prescription safety glasses. To learn more about our products, or to schedule an eye exam at one of our five clinics in the Edmonton area, contact us today.