It’s natural to associate sunglasses with the beach, holidays abroad and summer in general. And, we don’t see as much of the sun during winter, so it’s easy to forget that your eyes are still susceptible to damage during the colder months. Any snow on the ground can reflect light back into your eyes and cause glare, eye strain, impaired vision, and other unpleasant issues. But, you can easily protect your eyes during the winter with something you probably already have in your bag or car.
Here are four reasons why you should wear sunglasses in the winter.
1. They reduce dangerous glare.
What exactly is glare? Well, it’s sunlight that obstructs your windshield (or general view) during the sunrise or sunset hours, making it difficult to see what’s in front of you—even a few seconds after you’ve been exposed to the intense light. Glare is actually worse in autumn and winter; when the sun is lower in the horizon, it hits the earth and reflects at a lower (and brighter) angle. Snow, ice, rearview mirrors, and traffic lights all produce bright reflections. While a winter wonderland is beautiful, its glare can impair your ability to see while walking, skiing, or driving. But, when you wear sunglasses, you’ll significantly reduce glare while driving, protecting yourself and others around you. Plus, your eyes will be much more comfortable! And, if you normally wear glasses, you can still avoid glare with prescription sunglasses.
2. They protect your eyes from UV rays.
You likely already know that UVA and UVB rays are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun that can cause skin damage. But, prolonged exposure to UV rays—even in the winter—will also increase your chances of eye problems, such as:
Age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss for older Americans
Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s natural (light-detecting) lens
Corneal sunburn (photokeratitis), short-term yet intense exposure to UVB rays that can cause temporary vision loss
Pterygium, a growth that may spread to the cornea and block vision
Skin cancer, which can occur around the eyelids
The good news is that your shades are excellent for blocking these harmful UV rays and keeping your eyes safe from the sun. Wearing sunglasses in the winter can also help you prevent the delicate skin around your eyes from wrinkling.
3. They keep out wind, dust, and debris.
Dry eyes, watery eyes, and general eye irritation are common complaints during the winter. When the cold air hits our eyes, they form reactionary tears—extra tears you get when your eyes are irritated. The tear film at the front of your eye evaporates quickly in the sharp wind, leaving your eyes uncomfortably dry. Wearing sunglasses in the winter can reduce the evaporation of your eyes’ tears and natural moisture. This can also keep contacts lenses from drying out in the wind. On windy days, particles can land in your eyes and scratch them, or even cause corneal abrasions. But, sunglasses can protect you from dust and debris—especially if you have the close-fitting, wraparound style of shades.
4. They reduce eye strain and headaches.
In bright lighting, your pupils automatically constrict; in dim lighting, your pupils automatically dilate. Eye strain occurs in extremely bright or inadequate lighting when your pupils can’t adjust to a comfortable brightness level. The retinas in the back of your eye are sensitive to light, and with extremely bright winter sun or snow, your pupils can’t constrict enough to reduce light exposure. This causes you to squint, leading to eye strain and even headaches. Sunglasses will help you drastically reduce the amount of light that reaches your eyes. An especially effective option is photochromic lenses: those that darken automatically when exposed to bright sunlight or reflections. There are even now style photochromic lenses with flash mirror coatings which cater brilliantly to lower light conditions.
Thinking about eye damage can be scary, but you can easily protect your vision by wearing your sunglasses in the winter. Blocking out glare, preventing eye strain and headaches, and avoiding damage from UV rays and debris are all great reasons to keep your shades on. This winter, make your eye health and safety a priority!
Berkhamsted Eyecare is based in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire and offers Enhanced Examinations and houses an extensive sunglass collection all year round! Book your visit online, or pop in for a visit.