Sunglasses and UV protection for your eyes

Published on
October 4, 2022

According to a new nationwide survey released, three-quarters of Americans worry about potential eye problems caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays, yet only 31% wear sunglasses or other UV-protective eyewear outdoors. In this blog will discuss UV rays and how sunglasses can protect you from them.

UV rays are blocked from entering the eye with sun protection. There are several types of UV rays. However, ultraviolet light is actually invisible to the human eye. It is not part of the visible spectrum. However, it can damage the eyes.

What are the different types of UV rays?

UV radiation can be categorized into three types, each with a different degree of risk.

  • UVC - Typically, UVC has the highest energy and can be considered the most dangerous type of UV ray. Fortunately, it is usually blocked by the ozone layer, so we don't have to worry about it.
  • UVB - UVB is another type of UV ray which is only partially blocked by the ozone layer. Typically, UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, suntans, wrinkles, and even aging of the skin. In regards to eye issues, it may cause pinguecula and pterygium. These are found on the white parts of the eye and can be compared to calluses, which result from UV exposure thickening the skin. Moreover, a lot of UVB rays are blocked by the cornea, which is the clear part of the eye that sits in front of the iris.
  • UVA - The UVA rays are usually considered to have the lowest energy. Since it's not blocked by the cornea, it is a little more dangerous in terms of eye issues. It can actually penetrate the lens and retina of the eye. This is when eye-related issues like cataracts and macular degeneration can develop.

Which sunglasses are best for your eyes?

When it comes to sunglasses, you have to be careful because not all of them have the same quality. It is important to choose sunglasses that are actually labeled that they block either 99% or 100% of UV rays. And usually, the lenses nowadays have it within the actual physical lens. As opposed to older styles of glasses, which may have just had a coating on the lens.

Polarized sunglasses are also important. You can use those to prevent glare off of things, particularly water if you're on a boat. However, you can’t get much protection from them. Look out for that label if you want to make sure you're buying the right product.

It's more important to pick sunglasses that fit your face well and offer protection than to choose something stylish.

Why should kids wear sunglasses?

The reason why it is important for kids to wear sunglasses is because kids' eyes are super clear which means a lot of UV rays can pass through. According to a recent study, over 50% of someone's lifetime UV exposure occurs before the age of 18. Hence, sunglasses are extremely important to wear whether you are a kid or an adult. No matter how cloudy the day may be.

Schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor

We have optometrists and an optician on hand who can help you choose the right sunglasses for you and your kids. Purchasing wrong sunglasses can harm your eyes, which is why you should seek professional advice before purchasing any type of eyewear. Please call (360) 491-2121 to schedule an appointment.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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