Five Reasons Why You Should Wear Sunglasses in the Winter
As winter edges closer, many of us — especially those that experience snow — start dreaming of holidays to sunnier climates.
And when packing for that beach vacation, one item is a suitcase essential: sunglasses. You might even need a few pairs, depending on your activity or outfit.
But did you know that sunglasses are just as important to our eye health in winter? We tend to think of donning shades when it’s sunny, warm, and bright. However, our eyes are quite vulnerable to damage in winter — often even more so than in summer — from the elements and the lower position of the sun.
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Here are five reasons why sunglasses are a necessity for the winter months:
- Protection from UV rays
Typically we think of UV rays primarily as a summer concern. However this is not the case. Snow reflects as much as 80% of the sun’s UV light. This means that unprotected eyes are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays twice, potentially doubling your UV exposure. This also impacts your skin.
Prolonged UV exposure can cause a host of eye injuries and diseases, some serious:
- Cataracts: UV rays can speed up or intensify cataracts, which cause cloudiness or haziness in the eye. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.
- Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss for North Americans over the age of 50. UV damage, which accumulates over time, breaks down the macula (part of the retina) and causes blurred or reduced vision.
- Cancer: UV light can cause skin cancer of the eyelid, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma
Harmful UV light not only ages the structures of the eye, it also ages the skin, which leads to wrinkles around the eye or other exposed areas.
Sunglasses act as sunscreen for your eyes. Optometrists recommend polarized sunglasses to thwart those nasty UV rays — they provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, even on cloudy days.
- Prevent snow blindness
If you like spending time on the ski hill, ice, or trails in the winter, you are especially vulnerable to photokeratitis, a painful eye condition. The UV light reflected from ice and snow — which is especially intense at higher elevations — can cause this corneal sunburn.
“Sunburn of the eye” — which is just as uncomfortable as it sounds — can lead to blurred vision and other irritating conditions of the eye, such as:
- Eye redness, grittiness, and swelling
- Excessive tearing
- Eyelid twitching
- Seeing halos
- Light sensitivity
Typically, snow blindness is temporary and will heal over time. However, in some cases it can cause intermittent vision loss and further photosensitivity.
To prevent photokeratitis, there are many styles of snow-friendly shades to choose from, with features such as polarization, side-shields, and snow-oriented tints. Wraparound sunglasses are another great full-coverage option to block out those UV rays from your eyes, the skin around them, and your peripheral vision.
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- Keep out wind, dust, and debris
Sunglasses are fantastic for protecting your eyes from flying particles — that could be leaves, ice chips, or anything blowing around in the winter air. This debris can cause eye abrasions or general irritation, or lead to dry or watery eyes.
Shades act as a shield for your eyes, and function as another layer of protection for contact lens wearers.
Extremely cold temperatures can also irritate your eyes. Frigid air constricts blood vessels and can even freeze your cornea, causing pain and vision issues. The good news: it’s a temporary condition that can be eased by allowing your eyes to return to normal temperature.
Winter’s chill can also lead to excessive tears that quickly evaporate in cold wind, and this dries out your eyes. Sunglasses — especially wraparound shades — can help stop tear evaporation and help to maintain eye moisture.
- Reduce glare
In the fall and winter months, the sun is lower in the horizon. Light reflects at a lower angle, often with greater intensity. This concentrated sunlight can be an extreme hazard — especially during sunrise or sunset — because you can’t see what ahead.
If you’re driving, that means obstructed views of other vehicles, traffic signals, road conditions, and pedestrians. Snow and ice can reflect this intense light, making it worse.
And the more time you spend navigating this minefield of brightness, the more you squint. Squinting can cause eye strain and headaches, two conditions that can impair your alertness behind the wheel.
Of course, the glare of winter sun can impact any outdoor activity. Look for shades with a lens tint and good contrast. Brown and gray-tinted lenses effectively reduce light intensity, while keeping colors true to life.
- Add extra style to your winter wardrobe
Total transparency: This tip has nothing to do with “musts” for eye health — it’s all about looking good at a time when the weather can be getting us down.
In the colder months, it’s necessary to pile on layer after layer of clothing. Bundled up in parkas, hats, and scarves, it can be difficult to make a fashion statement.
Sunglasses can personalize your look or amp up your style. Find shades that pair beautifully with your puffer jacket, complement your big coat, or match your favorite scarf. Or go bold with patterned frames, making your shades the focal point of your look.
It’s a win-win: a sophisticated fashion accessory that also protects your eyes.
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Protecting your eyes in the winter months, with its added risks and challenges, is easy thanks to the technology available in today’s sunglasses. You can effortlessly thwart UV rays, intense light, glare, and wind — with confidence and style. (And yes, shades also provide all of these protections while on holiday in the sun!)
And if you have questions, contact our customer service team at 1-800-404-7317 or email email@example.com to learn more. We’re happy to help.