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Spring 99 Table of Contents
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Sunglasses Offer UV Protection Beyond Summer's Dog Days

Reprinted with permission from the American Optometric Association
1997 by American Optometric Association. All Rights Reserved.

Editor's note: This reprint was written just after summer, so references to snow may seem a bit out of place this time of year. But since exposure to ultraviolet radiation increases the chances for cataracts and macular degeneration later in life, this information is important as we enter summer.

ST. LOUIS, August 25,1998 — Labor Day is just around the corner, but that doesn't mean people should retire their sunglasses like they do their summer whites, says the American Optometric Association (AOA).

That's just one of several myths that may keep people from protecting their eyes year-round from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Here are a few other facts about sunglasses and UV protection from Michael D. Jones, O.D., AOA executive director:

Good UV protection doesn't have to be expensive. AOA recommends that sunglasses which offer 99-100 percent UV protection. These levels can be found all along the price spectrum. Look for sunglasses with the AOA's Seal of Acceptance or have the UV level tested by an optometrist.

UV damage is cumulative. Children should be encouraged to wear sunglasses beginning in infancy whenever they are out in the sun. Their eyes are most susceptible to UV damage because the eye's lens has not yet begun to cloud.

Wondering what color lenses to choose? Gray lenses don't modify colors. Green and brown are also good choices.

Ask for a UV coating on your glasses. Some brands of contact lenses also offer some degree of UV protection, but they won't fully protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses over them.

Give yourself additional protection and style by wearing a broad-brimmed hat to block out even more UV radiation, which is present year-round and can be reflected off winter snow as well as summer sidewalks.

Light eyes have less pigmentation and are thus more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV radiation just as lighter skin is.

Two appearance-related appeals: High-fashion frames can be fitted with lenses that offer adequate UV protection. Also, wearing sunglasses not only keeps the sun from damaging the skin around your eyes, it cuts down on squinting, which helps stave off fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

Visit the American Optometric Association's website at http://www.aoanet.org for more information on eye health and eye care from the 32,000-member organization representing the nation's primary eye care practitioners.


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