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Home » What's New » Winter UV Exposure and Your Eyes

Winter UV Exposure and Your Eyes

Winter is officially here, which means in some locations whipping winds and freezing rain, snow and sleet aren't far behind. You would never even conceive of leaving the house without a heavy sweater or coat in cooler climates, but unfortunately, many people don't think to take their sunglasses. Although the sun isn't always our primary consideration during times that we are venturing out to the freezing cold, the sun is still a present danger in colder climates, and sometimes can be even more powerful.

If you find yourself snowed in, it is wise to be extra careful. Especially after a serious snow fall, the blanket of snow covering the world around you actually magnifies the reflection of the sun. In fact, for many it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors following a fresh snow. The UV radiation that many people are so vigilant in avoiding in the summer may actually be more dangerous in the colder season due to the fact that it reflects off the snow or ice, resulting in double exposure. This is why a pair of sunglasses is an essential winter accessory.

While you want to look great in your shades, the most important consideration when choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Be sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they are labeled UV 400 (this means they block all light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.) The good news is proper sun protection isn't necessarily expensive. Many of the more affordable options exist that still provide complete ultraviolet defense.

Another important feature in selecting sun wear is lens size. You want to make sure the lenses totally cover your eyes and if possible the surrounding areas as well. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to enter. Wrap around frames will also stop UV waves from sneaking in from the periphery.

Just as most people are aware that sunglasses are critical to wear on the water since the water reflects sunlight, this is also true for frozen water sources including ice and snow. Consequently it is just as important to put on sunglasses when out skiing, ice skating or even taking a walk on a snowy day. Additionally ultraviolet exposure is more powerful at greater elevations such as mountain ski slopes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about the risks of the sun's radiation to your eyes throughout the year. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.