When the sun is hidden away behind a set of lumpy clouds on an overcast day, many people choose to leave the sunglasses behind and grab an umbrella instead, but even on cloudy days, eye health is important. Believe it or not, sunglasses can be and should be worn during overcast days during daylight.
Why you should wear sunglasses on cloudy days
You may be asking yourself, “why should I wear sunglasses if I can’t see the sun?”
Ever notice how even on a cloudy day, the world around us is still lit up with light that enables us to see during the daylight hours?
Well, even though the sun is hiding behind an atmosphere of clouds, its effects on temperature, atmospheric pressure, and our eyes are still present.
When the sun shines through a layer of dense clouds, the atmosphere acts as an incubator for UV rays, making them even more intense than when the sun is shining bright in all its glory.
Studies show that partially cloudy skies raise surface UVB levels by 25 percent and the UVB rays associated with DNA damage are 40 percent stronger.
Overexposure to UV rays can cause damage to the eyes over time.
Many people protect their skin from getting sunburned by wearing sunscreen but aren’t aware that their eyes can become sunburnt as well.
Sunburnt eyes may become red, dry, painful, and gritty and lead to permanent eye damage such as cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal sunburn, and some eye cancers.
Obviously, we can’t go around rubbing sunscreen on our eyes, so it is important to protect our eyes with sunglasses or prescription lenses that contain UV protection.
Wearing sunglasses year-round
In addition to wearing your sunglasses on cloudy days, you may benefit from wearing glasses year-round for the following reasons:
1. Sunglasses protect your vision while driving
Car windshields provide little protection from UVA rays and glare, so you may benefit from the added protection while driving.
When driving, consider gradient lenses (glasses that are tinted at the top of the lens to shield the eyes from high sunlight while maintaining comfortable vision through the lighter part of the lens) or polarized sunglasses (glasses that minimize road glare and provide clarity in foggy or partly-cloudy conditions). When picking the best options for driving, it is important to note that polarized lenses can make it difficult to view LCD screens on dashboards.
2. Sunglasses protect your eyes from allergens and irritants
Sunglasses can shield your eyes from year-round elements, like wind, allergens and debris including eye allergies in the spring or dry eye due to the wind and dry winter weather.
3. Sunglasses prevent sun-related eye diseases
By wearing high-quality sunglasses, you can reduce your risk of developing certain eye conditions related to UV ray exposure, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, pinguecula and pterygium.
Which sunglasses work best?
When purchasing sunglasses, always make sure that the lenses protect from UVA and UVB rays and contain 99.5 percent UV blockage, which is the FDA-approved level of UV protection.
If you are overdue for a new pair of glasses, make sure your new purchase protects the sides of your eyes and fits well on your face.
Consider opting for wraparound sunglasses or ones with side panels to keep your eyes and the surrounding skin safe when you’re spending time outdoors.
It’s also important to keep up with regular eye exams to ensure you’re getting the most out of your sunglasses and other protective eyewear all year long, especially if you require a prescription.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Eye and Vision center for more articles.