Optometrist says sunglasses offer more than just a cool look

Keep your eyes safe in the summer sun

LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Summer, sun and sunscreen. Everyone knows to protect their skin this time of year, but what about your eyes? Hattiesburg Clinic Eye Associates optometrist Dr. Will Stringer said everyone needs a good pair of sunglasses that protect their eyes.

“Whatever you are doing when you are outside, make sure you are wearing a good pair of sunglasses,” Stringer said.

By good, Stringer means sunglasses that have UV protection, meaning protection from the ultraviolet radiation. He said whether it’s sunny or overcast outside, by not wearing the proper shades, you could be putting yourself at risk for sunburn. He’s not talking about your skin.

“You can actually suffer a similar type of burn on the eyes, which is called photokeratitis, and it is damage to the cornea and the conjunctiva, which are the outermost layers of the eye,” Stringer said.

Stringer says other risks from UV exposure are cancers on the eyelid and eye, macular degeneration, which can cause blindness, and cataracts.

“It is true that we will all experience cataracts at some point in our lives. Protecting our eyes from UV exposure can help to delay that onset,” Stringer said.

Stringer said if you are wearing sunglasses without the proper UVA or UVB protection, you could be doing more harm than good.

“When you put that tinted lens over your eyes, it causes your pupils to dilate, so it becomes bigger, allowing more light to actually make it into the eye and cause more damage,” Stringer said. "So, you would be better off not wearing any sunglasses at all. "

Stringer said the proper sunglasses with UV protection won’t last forever. He said you should change them out for new ones every couple of years. He said you only get one pair of eyes, so no matter if you are 9 or 90, protecting your eyes is protecting your health.

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