Winter sun can be dangerous for your eyes.

Many people believe that once summer is gone it’s time to put away our sunglasses. True, winter’s rays aren’t as direct as they are during the summer, yet many of us don’t know that the effects of the winter sun can be just as dangerous.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are dangerous to our eyes no matter the time of year, and they can even penetrate overcast clouds, so even cloudy days offer little protection. These nearly invisible rays are not fully absorbed in our atmosphere (UVA or UVB) and affect our skin and eyes.

Much like how we are told to wear sunscreen during the summer, we should protect our eyes from the sun, even in winter.

Winter snows are bright and beautiful. However, the snow on the ground reflects up to 80 percent of the UV rays they encounter. This means increased amounts of eye strain and UV danger. Our exposure to ultraviolet rays is almost doubled while enjoying outdoor winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding or building a snowman; wearing sunglasses isn’t just for summer.

If you travel to higher elevations to enjoy the snow, know that you are putting yourself at even higher risk. As elevation increases there is less atmosphere over our heads to absorb the UV radiation – putting us at increased risk. Calculations make the point that for every 1,300 feet of elevation gain radiation exposure increases 18 percent.

Wearing sunglasses in the winter will also help our eyes in other ways: reduce glare and provide protection.

Snow can often make our surroundings brighter than usual. Add in some ice and the situation can get uncomfortable, especially on sunny winter days. A good pair of sunglasses will reduce glare and minimize eye strain. If glare is especially bothersome to you, look to buy a pair of sunglasses featuring polarized lenses, which greatly reduce glare.

Cold winter winds can also affect eye health by drying them out as they pass by unprotected eyes. Sunglasses can provide protection against winter winds and help the eyes retain a degree of their natural moisture.

When shopping for sunglasses not just any dark-tinted lenses will do. It is important to buy only those marked as offering 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. All quality sunglasses will be properly marked. If you need glasses, most prescriptions can be included in a pair of sunglasses through your eye doctor.

Tower Clock Eye Center offers a wide selection of UV-rated sunglasses, as well as the option to have sunglasses made with your eye glasses prescription. For more information, stop by our optical department locations at 1087 West Mason Street or 2149 Velp Avenue, or call us at 920-499-3102.

 

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