During the summer months, Arizonans are often painfully aware of the sun, the heat and the importance of ultraviolet eye protection. Most people know that you shouldn’t forget to don your sunglasses before heading out to the pool or the lake to protect your eyes from the harsh summer sun. However, some may not think about the need for UV protection while enjoying the outdoors during the winter. It’s just as important to wear sunglasses when heading up to the mountains to play in the snow. The thinner atmosphere at Arizona’s higher elevations filters significantly less UV Rays and snow on the ground can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays back towards your eyes.
So what can you do about it?
If you wear clear prescription glasses or non-prescription sunglasses make sure that they actually block UV light. Certain lens materials such as polycarbonate naturally filter out UV light. Also UV coatings can be applied to lenses to accomplish the same goal. Glasses don’t have to be dark to filter out UV light, and just because glasses are dark does not necessarily mean that they block ultraviolet rays. UV light is not visible to the naked human eye, and you can’t tell if glasses are blocking UV light just by looking through them. If you are not sure, many eye care and optical professionals have devices to check glasses for their ability to filter UV.
So if you are going out to hit the slopes or just to build a snowman with the kids, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun!
Dr. Jake Hiscox O.D.
Any eye concerns or issues from winter sports, please contact Tucson Optometry Clinic at 520-885-2052