Are Your Sunglasses Doing Their Job?

Harrisburg, Apr. 8, 2015 - With the promise of summer and vacations lingering just out of reach, many Americans may be contemplating buying a new pair of sunglasses. The Pennsylvania Optometric Association reminds consumers to be sure their stylish sunglasses provide protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays.

According to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, 47 percent of consumers purchase sunglasses without checking the UV protection level. Overexposure to UV rays can cause eye and vision problems, which is no way to remember a day of outdoor fun.

Your sunglasses checklist

To ensure your sunglasses are adequately protecting your eyes, follow these tips, which can also be found online in the AOA's Sunglasses Shopping Guide.

·         Be sure to buy sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. While some contact lenses offer UV protection, these should be worn with sunglasses to maximize protection.

·         Sunglasses should screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.

·         The frame of your sunglasses needs to fit close to your eyes and contour the shape of your face to prevent exposure to UV rays from all sides and angles.

·         Pick lenses that are matched in color and lack distortion.

·         Lenses should also have a uniform tint, not a gradual change from a dark area to a lighter one. The POA suggests a gray tint, which is helpful when driving because it offers the best color recognition.

UV exposure short- and long-term effects

If the eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, individuals may experience an effect called photokeratitis, which is known as a "sunburn of the eye."

The effect of sunburn on the skin is painful, but photokeratitis hurts the eyes in a different way; painful symptoms include red eyes, a foreign-body sensation, gritty feeling in the eyes, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Fortunately, photokeratitis is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.

However, long-term overexposure to UV radiation over the course of one's life can cause more serious problems, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, cancer of the eyelids, eye and the skin around the eyes, and pterygium, which is an abnormal growth of the white of the eye onto the cornea.

Don't forget the kids

Parents and guardians need to be sure their children have appropriate eye protection at all times while outdoors. The lens found in a child's eye cannot filter out UV rays as easily as an adult's. While protection from UV rays is important for all people, despite ages, a child's eyes are more vulnerable and more transparent than adult eyes.

When children go outside to play, parents should get them in the habit of wearing sunglasses to instill good eye care practices for life.

To be sure your sunglasses will properly protect your eyes, your best resource is your optometrist, who will also help ensure your eyes are healthy through yearly, comprehensive eye exams. Find an eye doctor near you at

About the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA):
The Pennsylvania Optometric Association is the professional organization for over 1,250 doctors of optometry in Pennsylvania. An affiliate of the American Optometric Association, POA promotes the highest quality eye and vision care by optometrists, represents optometry to state government, provides its members with post-graduate education and membership benefits, and conducts activities in the interest of the visual welfare of the public. For more information, visit

About the American Eye-Q® survey:

The 10th annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From February 19-March 4, 2015, PSB conducted 1,000 online interviews among Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. general population. (Margin of error is plus or minus 3.10 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.)

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit