Just as we need to use sunscreen to protect our skin, we also need to wear sunglasses to protect our eyes. While sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, their most important job is to protect our eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light.

UV light is electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to the human eye. If too much UV light is absorbed, our eye structures such as the cornea, the lens and the retina, can be damaged. An estimated 20% of cataracts are caused by extended UV exposure.

We don’t have to spend a ton of money on sunglasses, but we do need shades with 100% UVA and UVB protection. Yet even they will not completely block UV light. Especially at the Jersey shore, we are often near water which reflects light and the bright sand of the beach. If you spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight, wrap-around frames and a hat can provide additional protection from harmful solar radiation.

Today some contact lenses have UV protection, but we should still wear sunglasses because UV rays may affect the eye tissue that is not covered by the contact lenses. If you wear regular prescription glasses, consider a pair of prescription sunglasses or get the type of lens that darkens in sunlight. Even on cloudy days, glare and UV light can impact our vision. That is why is it so important to protect oueyes when we are in the car or whenever we are outdoors.

So get yourself a pair of nice sunglasses this year and and don’t just look cool in your shades, look smart too.

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