Importance of Sunglasses in Winter and the Dangers of the Winter Sun

Most people have heard that the sun can damage your eyes and that wearing sunglasses can help protect you from this damage. What many people don’t realize, however, is the importance of sunglasses in winter and throughout the entire year. They aren’t just for summer fun.

The Vision Council shares that up to 75% of Americans worry about UV light safety, but only about half of that number wear sunglasses. In the winter, the percentages drop even more. Although most people assume UV rays are much more dangerous in the summer months, the winter can pose a high risk of eye damage too.

I Wear Sunglass in Winter

There are two major reasons you should consider wearing sunglasses in winter. The first is snow blindness. It sounds like a fake term, but it’s a real thing. Snowy and icy surfaces reflect UV rays, creating a glare. Snow blindness can cause:

  • Eye pain
  • Headache
  • Eye swelling
  • Watery eyes
  • Eyelid twitching
  • Halos around lights
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes

Even if the day looks cloudy, light can still reflect off water, ice, and snow, potentially causing damage to your eyes. And while this is problematic enough, it can also lead to UV ray damage, which is our second major reason to wear sunglasses in winter.

UV light can be damaging to all of the structures within the eyes. For example, increased sun exposure and UV light to your eyes can put you at higher risk for corneal damage and cataracts. When it comes to cataracts, oxidative stress causes proteins on the lenses of the eyes to begin clumping together, and UV light can trigger that oxidative stress.

Not only does UV light pose a risk to serious eye conditions, but it can also age your eyes. How? Eyelid skin is the thinnest type of skin on your body. Exposure to UV light can cause eyelid dryness, sagging, mottled pigmentation, and loss of elasticity, in addition to accentuating furrows.

In addition, wearing sunglasses in winter can help protect you against cancerous growths in the front surface of the eye, which can occur after exposure to high levels of UV radiation. It can also help prevent non-cancerous growths like pinguecula and pterygium.

The Importance of Sunglasses in Winter (& All Year Long)

Wearing sunglasses outside, even during the winter, helps keep your eyes safe. In addition to blocking UV radiation, sunglasses protect your eyes from debris that can cause irritation or infection, such as dust, dirt, and pollen carried on the wind.

The mirror coating on sunglasses reflects light away from your eyes. It helps you avoid constant squinting and the strain that comes with it while also blocking UV rays. All good sunglasses have a UV coating. UV coating works similarly to sunscreen, allowing the lenses to further block damaging light from reaching your eyes. Polycarbonate glasses have UV coating built-in.

To avoid developing snow blindness, you want to choose sunglasses with polarized lenses and UV protection. Polarized light is what causes the glare that affects your eyes. Polarized lenses do not block UV light on their own, but they do diminish glare.

Keep Your Eyes Healthy & Wear Sunglass in Winter

Optometrists always stress the importance of sunglasses, recommending people wear them every day, no matter what time of year. Wearing sunglasses in winter can help you avoid the discomfort of snow blindness while also protecting you against the harmful UV rays that can cause cataracts and other eye conditions. However, remember that most over-the-counter sunglasses don’t have the proper UVA and UVB protection.

If you want sunglasses that protect your eyes this winter, contact Looking Glass Optical today. We will ensure you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and winter vacation without worrying about your eyes.