A Healthier U

How to Tell if Your Sunglasses are Really Protecting Your Eyes

By Moran Eye Center

Those sunglasses you just bought may look ultra-cool, but save them for selfies if they’re not filtering out the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

After all, not all sunglasses are created equal. Whether vintage, cheap, expensive or polarized, they may or may not be doing their job to protect your precious eyes.

In particular, older sunglasses may not be as effective as you think. Most sunglasses today have UV protection embedded in the lens rather than coated over it, and most reputable brands list UV protection on their label. Look for a label that says “100% protection against both UVA and UVB” or “100% protection against UV 400.”

If you’re uncertain about your sunglasses—or those fun pairs you bought online for the kids—simply take them to an optical shop where they can be tested in a photometer. Most opticians will test them for free, and it takes less than 30 seconds.

You really don’t need to spend big bucks for UV-protecting glasses, but here’s more of what you do need to know:

  • Dark sunglasses that don’t block harmful rays may reduce your need to squint in bright light, but that’s about it. When you put on a very dark pair of sunglasses your pupils open up and allow much more light into your eyes than if you didn’t wear those sunglasses at all. So while they may filter out ambient light and glare, that additional exposure to UV rays increases your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration and even development of ocular melanoma—a rare cancer.
  • Polarization has nothing to do with UV light absorption, but many polarized lenses are now combined with a UV-blocking substance. Check the label to make sure the lenses provide maximum UV protection. The same goes for lens color and tint, lens darkness, and mirror coating.
  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially around water, consider wrap-around sunglasses that protect from UV rays that come in from the side. This design will also stop the wind that makes your eyes dry. They don’t have to be expensive. They just have to fit well—and of course, you have to keep them on as long as you are in the sun. That goes for kids of all ages, too.

“The most important advice is to put on your sunglasses whenever you are outside,” says John A. Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist, Jeff Pettey, M.D. “And put them on your kids, please. Sunglasses are to the eyes what sunscreen is to the skin. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, they are an essential shield to protect your health.”

Each year more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 are treated for injuries sustained on the playground. Keep your kids safe while they play.

Click here to read the full story.

Pap Smear, HPV Test or Both?
The Pap smear (or Pap test) is one of the cornerstones of women’s health. It was introduced in the 1940’s as a way to screen for abnormal cervical cells. Starting at the age of 21 women are recommended to get one every three to five years depending on their age and cancer risk. “What we are looking for is called cervical dysplasia,” said Melani Harker, M.D., a gynecologist with University of Utah Health. “These are cells that are not yet cancerous but have the potential to be. By identifying them with a Pap test we can treat them before that happens.”

Click here to read to the full story.

For more expert health news and information, click here.