Importance of Protecting Eyes From the Sun and Wearing Sunglasses

By Claudia Rojas on July 10, 2024 in Vision Health

man and woman smiling wearing sunglasses

Protecting eyes from the sun and what you need to know about sunglasses

While exposure to sunlight can have positive effects on our overall health, including heightened energy and mood, your employees need to defend themselves from its potentially harmful ultraviolet rays. People are increasingly diligent about protecting their skin by wearing hats and sunscreen (don't forget your neck and ears). But eyes need protection, too.

As we enjoy the summer heat – when we spend greater amounts of time outside and UV rays are the strongest – it's important to remind your employees about the importance of UV eye protection and to show how our benefits make it easy to stay safe (and stylish) whenever the sun is out.

Basic facts about UV, outdoor light and our eyes

While all 3 types of ultraviolet light produced by the sun – UVC, UVC, and UVA – can be harmful to human skin and eyes, UVA rays are the most damaging.1 Unlike UVC rays, which are completely filtered out by the ozone layer and UVB rays, which are only partially absorbed, UVA rays have a level of 95% penetration through the Earth's atmosphere.2 They are also constant throughout the day and can penetrate windows and clouds.3

It’s important to recognize that clouds do not block UV light, and harmful sun rays can break through clouds and damage your eyes. UV radiation poses risk because it can damage the eyes' surface tissue, cornea, and lens. That’s why UV-blocking sunglasses can help you protect your eyes and soak up sunshine safely.4 Rays reflected off snow, ice, water or cement, can cause eyes to sunburn, potentially resulting in temporary blindness.5 It can also cause pterygium (surfer's eye) that can eventually interfere with vision.6

Misconceptions about eye protection from harmful UV rays

Given all we know about these harmful UV rays, there still exists a number of misconceptions about protecting ourselves from them. Many people believe, for example, that cloudy and cool days mean fewer UV rays – most likely because the sun doesn't feel as hot when it's not shining so bright. According to the American Cancer Society, however, it is unquestionable that UV rays can pass through clouds.7

Another common fallacy: sunglasses are seasonal. While you can choose the sunglasses you want to wear based on the season, unlike UV rays, sunglasses are not just for sunny, summer days. Proper eye (and skin) protection are critical year-round.8

Some people might also wrongfully suggest that cheap sunglasses don't offer enough protection. It's vital to check for a label that says “99% UV protection guaranteed” or “100% protection guaranteed,” which can be found on even lower priced glasses.9 And having dark sunglass lenses doesn't necessarily mean higher UV protection. While 39.4% of Americans adults believe this, the truth is that dark lenses, without that adequate UV protection, can be worse than wearing no sunglasses at all.10 Also, the frame should be large enough to prevent the UV rays from getting around the edges of the lens.11

Safeguarding our eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays is essential year-round, not just during sunny summer days. While misconceptions about UV protection abound, it's clear that even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate and cause damage. Investing in sunglasses that offer proper UV protection is crucial, regardless of cost or lens darkness, to shield our eyes effectively. By promoting awareness and ensuring access to quality eye protection, we can enjoy the sunshine safely and preserve our vision for the future.

Vision wellness plays an important role in the overall health and well-being of your employees. Groups can receive a discount of 2% on their dental plan rate when adding a qualifying DeltaVision* group product to a Delta Dental of Illinois dental plan at the time of sale or renewal. Learn more about our DeltaVision plans for groups.

*DeltaVision is provided by ProTec Insurance Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Dental of Illinois, in association with EyeMed Vision Care networks.

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  • Degeneration Foundation," accessed April 7, 2021.
  • 2 "Detrimental Effects of UVB on Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells and Its Role in Age-
  • Related Macular Degeneration," Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, August
  • 13, 2020.
  • 3 "Detrimental Effects of UVB on Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells and Its Role in Age-
  • Related Macular Degeneration," Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, August
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  • 4 “The Sun, UV Light and Your Eyes,” by David Turbert, American Academy of
  • Ophthalmology, June 11, 2020.
  • 5 "What is Photokeratitis - Including Snow Blindness?" by Daniel Porter, American
  • Academy of Ophthalmology, Oct. 29, 2020.
  • 6 "What Is Surfer's Eye?" by Whitney Seltman, WebMD, September. 12, 2020.
  • 7 "Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation: What Is UV Radiation?" American Cancer Society,
  • revised July 10, 2019.
  • 8 "Why You Should Wear Sunglasses Year-Round" by Allison Collins, All About
  • Vision, updated January 2021.
  • 9 "Seven Myths About Sunglasses That Could Damage Your Vision," American
  • Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), July 24, 2020.
  • 10 "UV Eye Protection and Sunglasses," Think About Your Eyes, accessed April 7,
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  • 11 "UV and Sunglasses: How to Protect Your Eyes," by Gary Heiting, OD, All About
  • Vision, updated January 2021.