In summertime, when the days are longest and the light the brightest, many people instinctively don a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes and increase their comfort.

But in the wintertime, with the event of shorter days and lower light, sunglasses often go unused until the time of year again rolls around when people pack up their beach towels and head to the pool or ocean.

But neglecting to use sunglasses year-round, says Jessica Lattman, a board-certified ophthalmologist and RealSelf.com advisor, is a mistake.

Though UV radiation is generally lower in the fall and winter months, there are a host of conditions that can make it just as high – or significantly higher – as in peak summer months.

Whether this is due to UV amplification as light is bounced off mirror-like, glass-constructed skyscrapers, or the functionally blinding reflection of light off of snow (up to a dangerous 85%), or the 5% increase in UV radiation that rises every 1,000 feet above sea level (at 5,000 feet, the exposure to UV radiation is 20% stronger), there is no reason to assume that your eyes – or your skin – are safe in the winter from UV exposure.   

Wearing a good pair of sunglasses in the winter months not only enhances your vision and increases your comfort by cutting down the glare off reflective surfaces, it also protects your eyes (and the delicate skin around them) from sunburn, helps to prevent eye fatigue, and eases the symptoms of dry eyes (by shielding the eyes from wind, blowing snow and airborne debris, and by decreasing the evaporation of tears).   

When shopping for sunglasses, look for lenses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB light and that are large enough to completely shield your eyes and surrounding skin. Especially look for polarized lenses, as this feature is responsible for eliminating glare (rather than just attenuating brightness as non-polarized lenses do) and allows you to continue to experience vivid color, contrast, and sharpness. 

Last, the color of lenses in a pair of sunglasses make a significant difference. Gray lenses reduce the intensity of light without affecting contrast and distorting color. Yellow or amber lenses significantly boost contrast and are a superior choice for winter driving or snow sports. Brown lenses bump up contrast and perform well in high altitude.

At Eyecare 20/20, we can help you with any and all of your eyecare needs, including prescription sunglasses, dry eye treatment, permanent vision correction, cataract surgery, or anything else you might be interested in! Reach out to us today, and we’ll happily help you see the world more clearly and comfortably every season of the year!   

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