You Need To Wear Sunglasses Every Day for Eye Health


Putting on a pair of sunnies when you run out the door is about more than just accessorizing your look. Keeping the sun out of your eyes with sunglasses is a key step in maintaining optimal eye health as you age. And Lilan Le, OD, optometrist at walk-in optical studio Heywear, says you should be wearing them every time you go outside.

“In addition to reducing the brightness of being outdoors for comfortable vision, sunglasses reduce your exposure to harmful ultraviolet light protecting the sensitive parts of our eyes,” says Dr. Le. “Sunglasses should be worn outdoors regardless of whether it’s sunny or cloudy because UV rays will still transmit through the clouds. In addition, wearing a hat along with your sunglasses will reduce exposure.

5 reasons to wear sunglasses for eye health

“The sun exposes us to ultraviolet light which can cause significant damage to our eyes over time,” says De. Le. “This can lead to several ocular conditions.”

1. Skin cancer

“Skin cancer can occur on our eyelids as with other parts of our body due to the harsh effects of long-term exposure to UV radiation,” says Dr. Le. You also want to make sure you’re applying sunscreen to your eyelids.

2. Surfer’s eye

“Pterygium/pinguecula is a growth of tissue that spreads from the white of our eyes towards the optical center of our eyes on our cornea,” says Dr. Le. “[It’s] also known as surfer’s eye due to the reflection of sunlight off of the surface of the water increasing exposure to surfers. If left untreated, it can change the cornea tissue which causes distortion or vision loss.”

3. Cataracts

“Cataracts occur when the lens of the eyes become cloudy resulting in decreased visual clarity and potential blindness if untreated,” says Dr. Le. “It is a common condition that develops slowly over years as we age but exposure to ultraviolet light can increase the speed of development.”

4. Photokeratitis

“Photokeratitis is a corneal burn that occurs due to strong UV rays most commonly seen from a day at the beach or slopes,” says Dr. Le. “This can create symptoms of blurred vision, light sensitivity, and pain.

5. Macular degeneration

“Macular degeneration is also a potential side effect which causes central vision loss. The macula is the center of our retina where we see the clearest vision of our eyes,” says Dr. Le. “Generally, most of the harmful rays are filtered out with the cornea and lens but there is some evidence that suggests the remaining rays can cause some damage to the retina increasing the risk of developing macular degeneration.”

10 pairs of sunglasses for eye health under $30

When shopping for sunglasses for eye health, Dr. Le says to look for sunglasses with an anti-reflective coating and that block UV 400 and shorter wavelengths. “This will reduce exposure to 99.9 percent of harmful days from the sun,” she says. Additionally, you want lenses that cover the entire eye, so those teeny tiny glasses won’t cut it. “For outdoor activities around water or reflective surfaces, polarized sunglasses will block horizontal light to decrease eye strain and reflection,” she says. As long as your glasses meet these requirements, the color of your lens does not impact the effectiveness of  UV protection.

That being said, getting sunglasses that completely fit the bill can add up. Below, you’ll find eight pairs that you can customize to get optimal protection. You can also have them made with your prescription (and if you do, you can spend your FSA/HSA dollars).

sunglasses for eye health

EyeBuyDirect Mila — $29+

Shop these chic glasses from EyeBuyDirect. To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating. The frames are available in three styles: brown (pictured), tortoise, and black with various different lens colors depending on the type of lens you get.

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Zenni Round Glasses 2019524 — $20+

Add a pop of color to your sunglass collection with these green frames. To get 100 percent UV protection, select from premium Tivex or polarized lenses and add on reflective coating. Both are available in tinted or mirrored finishes in a variety of colors. Pictured are the gradient green lenses with mirror.

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EyeBuyDirect Seeker — $24+

These aviator frames come in black (pictured) and gunmetal. To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating.

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sunglasses for eye health

EyeBuyDriect Sun Bardot — $29+

Keep it simple with these large round sunglasses. These frames are available in three styles: ivory tortise (pictured), floral tortise (black, purple, and brown mix), and black. To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating.

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Zenni Round Glasses 206825 — $20+

Opt for these thin frames for a delicate yet patterned look with wither tortoiseshell (pictured), navy, or brown-to-clear ombre frames. To get 100 percent UV protection, select from premium Tivex or polarized lenses. Pictured are the tortoiseshell frames with a dark gray tinted lens.

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EyeBuyDirect Culture — $29+

The oval Culture frames from EyebuyDirect come in bronze (pictured), black, and gold. To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating.

sunglasses for eye health

EyeBuyDirect Samba — $22+

The Samba frames from EyeBuyDirect introduce a touch of color along the browline. They are available in mint frost (pictured), pink, and floral (a pinkish-gray mix). To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating.

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Zenni Aviator Glasses 419119 — $7+

Have fun with these metal aviators from Zenni, which are available in rose gold (pictured) gold, gray, and silver. To get 100 percent UV protection, select from premium Tivex or polarized lenses. Both are available in tinted or mirrored finishes in a variety of colors. Pictured are the rose gold frames with mirrored gradient amber lenses.

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sunglasses for eye health

EyeBuyDirect Impression — $29+

These bold frames from EyeBuyDirect make a serious impression. They’re available in black (pictured), yellow, tortoise, and aqua. To get full UV 400 protection, be sure to select gradient, mirrored, or polarized lenses. Mirrored and polarized lenses are also complete with an anti-reflective coating.

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Zenni Cat-Eye Glasses 2032425 — $7

Go big with these cat-eye sunglasses from Zenni. They’re available in tortoiseshell (pictured), lagoon, hibiscus, and papaya. To get 100 percent UV protection, select from premium Tivex or polarized lenses and add on reflective coating. Both are available in tinted or mirrored finishes in a variety of colors. Pictured are tortoiseshell frames with dark amber tint lenses.

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