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The Importance of Wearing Sunglasses Year-Round – Especially in Southern California

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Although sunglasses have a long history as a fashion statement, they actually serve quite an important purpose. Mission Viejo Optometry providers, Dr. Lau and Dr. Farson, encourage all patients to wear sunglasses all year long to stay proactive about eye health, whether you live in Southern California or anywhere the sun shines.

Damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays

The sun produces high-intensity UV rays during all seasons, not just the summertime. As a result, your eyes are exposed to these rays anytime you’re outside. Even if the day is cloudy and the sun isn’t visible, these UV rays are still in the atmosphere.

UV rays have a damaging effect on your eyes and can cause multiple, long-term health complications, affecting your eye health and ultimately, your vision. Common issues caused by the sun’s UV rays include:

Cataracts: a condition that clouds the lens of your eye and causes blurry vision

Pterygium: a condition where tissue grows over the white part of your eye, which can change its curvature and lead to astigmatism and long-term vision problems

Macular degeneration: a disease that damages the retina, resulting in the loss of central vision and increasing the risk for total eye blindness

Photokeratitis: a painful inflammation in the cornea caused by overexposure to UV rays. Also known as snow blindness, this condition can cause temporary vision loss for up to 48 hours.

As these conditions tend to develop gradually over time, your diligent use of high-quality, protective sunglasses can reduce your risk for such damage to your eye health and loss of vision.

What to look for in sunglasses

Picking out the right pair of sunglasses should involve more than complimenting your face shape and matching your wardrobe. You should pay attention to the information printed on the glasses concerning their level of protection from the sun.

The two key details you need to look for concern UVA and UVB protection. Long-wave ultraviolet A (UVA) are low-energy rays of light that can pass through your cornea and reach the retina inside your eye, causing cataracts and trigger the start of macular degeneration.

Short-wave ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are a higher intensity ray of light that affect the surface of the skin and are responsible for producing suntans, sunburns, and premature wrinkles. These types of rays are absorbed fully by your cornea and cause conditions, like photokeratitis.

You want to focus on finding protective lenses that block out 100% of both UVA and UVB rays to prevent eye damage and long-term complications.

Protection made easy

If you already wear glasses, you can order sunglasses through Mission Viejo Optometry with prescription lenses to make protecting your eyes more convenient.

In addition to shielding your eyes with sunglasses each time you go outside, also consider wearing brimmed hats when out in the sun to further protect your eyes and a good sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.

Routine vision checks are also crucial for good eye health, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. These exams can go a long way to detecting eye issues in the earliest stages, so treatment can be more effective and successful.

Learn more about your options for sunglasses by calling the Mission Viejo office, or simply use the convenient online booking feature.


Written by Dr. Tanya Lau

Dr. Tanya Lau of Mission Viejo Optometric Center in Mission Viejo, California was born and raised in San Francisco and has been living in Southern California since 2012. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and double majored in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Psychology. She earned her doctorate in optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum in 2016. She completed her professional internships at Lawton Indian Health Hospital in Oklahoma, Palo Alto Veteran Affairs in California, and Camp Zama United States Armed Forces in Japan.
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