Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a danger to skin and eyes year-round, playing a contributing factor to skin damage, skin cancer and eye disorders like cataracts. With May being UV Awareness Month, it’s a great time to take steps to protect your family.

“The more time you spend outdoors without protecting your eyes, the greater your risk for ocular damage,” says Dr. James Winnick, an optometrist with VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits company in the United States.

Rather than avoid the problem entirely by seeking refuge inside, take steps to mitigate your risk in the sun. 

Consider Risk Factors

While all people need to protect their eyes from UV radiation, some populations are more sensitive than others to the sun. For example, children don’t yet have the natural protection in their eyes that adults have, so they get most of their exposure before they are 18. Additionally, people living with diabetes have increased light sensitivity.

No matter who you are, protecting your eyes outdoors is crucial, say experts.

“One of the most convenient ways to ensure you’re constantly protecting your eyes from UV rays and excess light is to opt for photochromic lenses, which are lenses that darken automatically to changing sunlight conditions when outdoors,” says Winnick. “These lenses can be especially useful for kids and adults who have trouble remembering to switch from their regular glasses to sunglasses throughout the day.”

Protection for Entire Family

Photochromic lenses are a great way to ensure everyone in the family is getting automatic and constant protection from UV radiation — whether it’s playing in the backyard or walking from the car into the office. And an added benefit is that your eyes will be much more comfortable in all light conditions, helping reduce eye strain and squinting.

Choose Wisely

It’s important to look for a brand of photochromic lenses that both darken and fade back quickly. For example, a new type of photochromic lenses called sunsync starts darkening within seconds of UV exposure and returns to clear within just minutes of going indoors. More information about sunsync lenses can be found at www.vsp.com/sunsync.

Reflected Light is a Concern

Sunlight is reflected off water, sidewalks, buildings — almost everything — and it goes in every direction. While sunglasses and photochromic lenses protect from UV light passing through the front of the lenses, a new trend in eye protection takes on the back side of lenses as well.

A special anti-reflective treatment can now be added to the back of lenses that helps prevent UV radiation from reflecting off of them and into your eyes. The great news is that some lens brands, like UNITY, offer this “backside UV” treatment at no additional cost depending on the options you choose for your new photochromic lenses.

Don’t wait for UV exposure to get the best of your eye health. Just as you use sunblock, you should have some protection for your eyes throughout the day. This May, take steps to better protect your family. 



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