Can Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes from Serious Damage?

Cute girl with Sunglasses
The right sunglasses can protect your eyes AND look awesome.

Summer is in full swing. Days are longer, the sun hotter, and the threat of eye damage from ultraviolet exposure is stronger greater than ever. Florida Eye Institute, along with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, warn that excessive sun exposure can put you at risk for serious short-term and long-term problems. Especially in Florida, this is true for young and old, all year-round.

To bring attention to this important eye health matter, ophthalmologists — physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care — are sharing information on how to keep eyes safe from sun damage.

There is no doubt about the consequences of not protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. If eyes are exposed to strong sunlight for too long without proper protection, UV rays can burn the cornea and cause temporary blindness in a matter of hours.

Long-term sun exposure is linked to more serious eye disease, such as cataract, eye cancer and growths on or near the eye. A lifetime of exposure also likely increases progression of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can cause blindness.

Prevention is simple. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet radiation. But how do you know if your sunglasses are up to the task of protecting your family’s sight?

UV protection is the essential piece to look for in a pair of sunglasses. When choosing sunglasses, look for a tag that confirms 100% protection against both UVA/UVB rays, or 100% protection against UV 400. Darkness and color do not indicate the strength of UV protection, and neither does the price tag. Even the least expensive sunglasses can offer adequate protection.

If you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag, take them to an optical shop. Any shop that has a UV light meter can test your sunglasses. A UV light meter is a handy test for when you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag or if they are simply old and you want to make sure.

Lee Hudgins, Licensed Optician and Manager of the Optical Gallery at Florida Eye Institute states, “In addition to quality UV protection, look for polarized lenses. Polarization reduces glare by controlling how light is reflected back to your eyes. Polarized lenses are especially helpful around areas that are highly reflective, like water and sand. They are a necessity in the Florida sun.”

In addition to protective sunglasses, consider wearing a broad-brimmed hat. They have been shown to significantly cut exposure of harmful rays. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Looking for a good eye doctor? Florida Eye Institute specializes in the advanced treatment of retina, cataract, glaucoma, and corneal disease. You’ll find complete eye care for the entire family, including the latest bladeless LASIK vision correction.

Florida Eye Institute has locations in Vero Beach and Sebastian. Medicare and most insurance are accepted. For more information call 772.569.9500 or visit

Content Courtesy of AAO & Florida Eye Institute