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Eye Health

Make Sunglasses a Priority for Your Patients’ Eye Health

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While it’s not necessarily breaking news, but your patients’ eye health can be protected or improved with the right sunglasses. The right sunglasses can help filter out the sun’s UV radiation and prevent the cumulative effect on the eye. UV radiation is comprised of three primary wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

  • UVA rays can impact an individual’s central vision. These rays pass through the cornea, lens, and retina of the eye.
  • UVB rays are primarily absorbed by the cornea, but these rays can cause even more damage to an individual’s eyes than UVA.
  • UVC rays are filtered by the atmosphere of the earth.

You can help protect your patients’ eye health by educating them on the hazards of sun exposure and the importance of wearing sunglasses. Continue reading to learn more about some of the most common diseases caused by UV radiation and a few tips you can use to guide your patients to the right sunglasses. 

Eye Conditions Caused by UV Exposure

Smoking tobacco is proven to cause a vast range of diseases and health complications, including heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other serious problems. In addition, smoking can have a perilous effect on an individual's eye health and lead to a number of eye diseases.  

UV-Related Eye Problems: Photokeratitis and Photoconjunctivitis

Two very common conditions caused by overexposure to UV rays are photokeratitis (inflamed cornea) and photoconjunctivitis (inflamed conjunctiva). Individuals can suffer from these conditions by staring directly into the sun or from UV rays that are reflected off sand, water, concrete, or snow. Because of this, it’s critical to your patients’ eye health they wear sunglasses whenever they are planning to be in the sun for any extended period. 

Surfer’s Eye or Pterygium

Pterygium is a fleshy, soft overgrowth of the conjunctiva. It usually starts out near the individual’s nose in the corner of the eye. Pterygium typically occurs in individuals who spend extended periods of time in the sun, like surfers. While painless, if pterygium isn’t treated, it can cause other vision problems.


According to a 2014 study financed by the National Eye Institute, the sun’s harmful UV radiation can cause damage to the proteins in the lens, which can significantly increase the likelihood of developing cataracts. 

As the most treatable cause of blindness, cataracts can result in progressive vision loss. You can educate your patients to wear sunglasses in any environment where the light is bright enough to make them squint, particularly at high elevations. 

Cancer of the Eyelids

While most people are well aware of skin cancer, few know about eyelid skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and eyelid melanoma. According to Skin, BCCs are responsible for approximately 90% of all eyelid skin cancers; SCCs represent an estimated 5%; and melanomas account for up to 2%. The majority of eyelid skin cancers will occur on an individual’s lower lid because this area receives the majority of exposure. 

Macular Degeneration

The sun’s UV rays are proven causes of macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. In fact, UVA radiation is responsible for the majority of macula damage. 

Tips to Protect Eye Health with the Best UV-Blocking Sunglasses

As an eye practitioner, your patients rely on you for all things regarding their vision. And you can share the following tips to help your patients find the best UV-blocking sunglasses.  

Always Check the Label 

Look for sunglasses that block 99% or even 100% of UV rays. It's vital to read the label to ensure the lenses are treated with a UV-blocking agent. 

Polarized Lenses Alone Do Not Block UV

Polarization is a must-have feature for many people because it effectively reduces glare from highways, water, snow, and other reflective surfaces. This causes many people to squint less and see better. However, polarized lenses alone do not block UV rays. 

Dark Lenses Alone Do Not Block UV

If your patient is looking for sunglasses to wear in extremely bright conditions, they will be better off with a darker lens. A medium tinted pair will usually be ideal for daily use. However, the degree of darkness and color doesn’t offer any information about the sunglasses' ability to protect the eye from UV radiation. 

Strongly Consider Wraparound Style Sunglasses

Wraparound sunglasses are designed to protect the entire eye and prevent UV from going around the frames and entering the eye. In fact, many studies suggest that enough UV radiation can enter from around the frames to negate the benefits of protective lenses. Large-framed, UV-blocking, wraparound sunglasses will protect the individual’s eyes from every angle. 

Avoid Sunglasses that Boast Infrared Ray Blocking

While infrared wavelengths are not visible, they do produce heat. All sunlight will contain low levels of infrared rays. Fortunately, the eyes are designed to tolerate infrared waves well. Many sunglass manufacturers make bogus health claims about their products based on infrared protection. However, no research has established a link between infrared rays and eye disease. 

Contact Keeler for Cutting-Edge Ophthalmic Instruments

At Keeler, we've been manufacturing ophthalmic instruments since 1917. As leaders in the market, we have continually achieved success by creating the type of reliable equipment that meets the rigorous demands of any practice. 

Contact Keeler today for the best diagnostic equipment and tools.

About the Author Eugene VanArsdale

Eugene is the Director of Marketing Communications at Keeler Instruments. He has been with Keeler since 1982 and is co-holder of two patents for the company. Eugene has a true passion for the eye care industry and has dedicated himself to understanding the ins and outs of the optometric and ophthalmic equipment market.