Eye Protection Facts


(HealthNewsDigest.com) – NEW YORK — Like your skin, overexposure to the sun can wreak havoc on your eyes. Sun damage can cause severe conditions such as sunburn to the cornea, tissue growth on the surface of eyes that can block vision, skin cancer of the eyelids and may even contribute to the development of cataracts and other eye problems.

Dr. George Cioffi, Chief of Ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center says, “Although everyone should protect their eyes from overexposure to harmful UV rays, there are some groups that are at higher risk. People with retinal disorders, with light-colored eyes, cataract surgery patients, and those taking medications that increase eye sensitivity to light should take extra steps to protect their eyes from the sun in the summer and all year-round.”

Dr. Christopher Starr, Director of Refractive Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, adds “There are strong indications that chronic exposure to the sun may accelerate aging of eye tissue. All protective eyewear should have a side shield protection or wraparound the eye so light cannot enter the eye from side reflections.”


ANSI is one of two U.S. organizations to set standards and labeling for sunglasses. The other is the Sunglass Association of America in conjunction with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Both standards and labeling programs are voluntary.

ANSI sets requirements for cosmetic quality, refractive properties (e.g., distortion or blur) and impact resistance. ANSI standard Z80.3-1996 divides sunglasses into three groups:

  1. cosmetic: sunglasses that block at least 70% of UVB and up to 60% UVA
  2. general purpose: sunglasses that block at least 95% of UVB and a minimum of 60% UVA
  3. special purpose: sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVB and 60% UVA

In the USA, unless sunglasses meet standards of the International Standards Organization (ISO-14889) or ANSI Z80.3-1996 section 4.6.3, they must carry a caution that reads: “not recommended for use while driving.”

Five point checklist for proper sun protection for your eyes during the summer and all year round:

  • Check the UV protection level. UV and sunglass protection is recommended year-round, and they should also be used during daylight hours. Even on cloudy days the UV index can be dangerously high. Your sunglasses should provide more than 95 percent UV protection and ideally 100 percent (sometimes labeled as UV400 on the glasses).
  • Check the lens tint. Most people believe that darker sunglasses provide better protection against the sun, but that is not true. The lens tint should block 80 percent of transmissible light but no more than 90 percent to 92 percent of light; neutral gray, amber, brown or green are good colors to choose from.
  • Make sure they block all of the light. Choose sunglasses that wrap all the way around the temples, and/or wear a hat with at least a three-inch brim that can block the sunlight from overhead.
  • Wear shades over your contact lenses. People who wear contact lenses that offer UV protection should still wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are helpful for preventing the drying effect most contact lens wearers get, which is caused by wind.
  • Buy shades for your children. Children’s eyes are not able to block UV rays as well as adults. For the best protection, consider UV-protected sunglasses for your children, and remember small infants should always be shaded from direct exposure to the sun.
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