Contact lenses are probably not the first thing you think of when you’re looking for UV protection for your eyes. But a number of brands, in their ongoing commitment to eye health, have incorporated the latest in lens technology to provide additional protection to their best-selling and most-loved contacts with these UV contact lenses.
For years, [people] have associated sun exposure with the effects it has on their skin, but it’s time to widen our field of vision to bring eye health into perspective….If the average U.S. adult spent just 30 minutes wearing a pair of sunglasses with adequate UV protection during the day, their eyes would gain nearly 183 hours of UV-free time over the course of a year. This protection is key to slowing the acceleration of serious eye diseases that [everyone] may face if they don’t take UV eye protection seriously. – The Vision Council
What are UV-blocking contact lenses?
UV contact lenses are contacts that are enhanced with an ultraviolet protection feature. These contacts are designed to minimize the exposure of UV light from your eye’s surface by blocking these harmful rays. UV contacts also help keep your eyes safe from UV damage that creeps through the sides or around sunglasses.
You can wear them all the time as your regular contacts if you want to. Whether it’s a sunny day or an overcast day, you can wear them indoors and outdoors all day long.
Why UV protective contact lenses?
Ideal for anyone who spends long hours outdoors, these UV contact lenses provide UV protection throughout the day.
While sunglasses that block 99-100% UVA and UVB rays are recommended by the American Optometric Association for everyday use, they caution that “many sunglasses styles do not protect the eyes from the solar radiation entering from the sides or around sunglasses”—unless they are wrap-around sunglasses.
The Vision Council notes that many of us may not realize that UVA and UVB rays reflect off of surfaces including water, snow , sand, concrete, and buildings.
Did you know?
- Water reflects up to 100% UV light
- Snow reflects up to 85% UV light
- Dry sand and concrete reflects up to 25% UV light
While sunglasses with the optimal levels of UV protection are ideal for protecting the eye’s sclera (the white of the eye), and the skin surrounding it, UV protective contact lenses provide additional protection for your retina—the most light-sensitive part of the eye. Wearing both sunglasses and UV contacts reduce the risk of UV damage.
What are the most common myths about UV Protection?
Hopefully you already know to pack a pair of 100% UV protective sunglasses for surf, sand, and sunshine, but a number of myths surrounding UV protection might be keeping your peepers unprotected in other areas of your outdoor life.
Myth 1: All sunglasses have full UV protection.
Reality 1: Even sunnies that claim they carry UV protection might not have 100% broad spectrum coverage. Always look for tints that boast 100% blocking capabilities for both UVA and UVB.
Myth 2: You don’t need UV protection on cloudy days, or in winter.
Reality 2: The sun’s rays are just as damaging on overcast days as they are on clear — a little cloud cover can’t block solar radiation. And light bouncing off powdery snow can actually increase your exposure to UV light.
Myth 3: Sunglasses protect 100% of your eye area from harmful light.
Reality 3: We all like a cool-looking pair of shades. Unfortunately, many trendy styles can leave the sides of your face unshielded from UV light. Luckily, some of the most popular contact lens brands come equipped with added protection to fill in the gap.
How do I get the best UV protection for my eyes?
With that in mind, pairing UV contact lenses with a pair of stylish UV-blocking sunglasses are recommended to maximize the health of your eyes.
Questions? Check with your eye doctor and ask if there is a contact lens with UV protection that would be suited for your eye health.
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