Can UV-Protectant Sunglasses Save You from Macular Degeneration?

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on May 9, 2022
Macular Degeneration Specialist Owings Mills/Pikesville,MD

Sunglasses do more than just make a fashion statement. The right glasses can help reduce the risk of retinal and macular conditions by blocking exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. According to the doctors at Elman Retina Group, if you want to boost your chances of enjoying lifelong ocular health, you would be wise to keep a pair of shades with you at all times.

The Sun and Your Eyes

Long-term UV exposure has been identified as one of the risk factors for several eye conditions, including macular degeneration. Macular degeneration describes the deterioration of cells in the macula — the area of the retina needed for straight-ahead vision. Currently there is no cure for macular degeneration, and prevention is of critical importance. Eye doctors believe that the effects of UV damage are cumulative — the more you are exposed to UV rays over time, the more likely you are to develop damage to the macula.

Unlike other risk factors for AMD such as advancing age or a family history of the disease, you can mitigate the risks of UV exposure by taking proper precautions. The best way to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays is by wearing sunglasses. Glasses will not eliminate the possibility of developing macular degeneration, but they can significantly reduce the chances.

Any old sunglasses won’t do; you need a pair that offers adequate protection. Specifically, your sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. When shopping for sunglasses, always check the label to verify UV protection. The sunglasses may be marked as offering protection from UV radiation up to 400 nm, or nanometers, which indicates adequate protection.

For even greater protection, choose a wraparound or oversized style of sunglasses. These options will reduce the amount of UV rays that can reach your eyes from the sides of the frames.

More Ways to Reduce the Risks of UV Exposure

  • Know that UV radiation is a threat, even on cloudy or hazy days. Don’t leave your glasses at home on overcast days!
  • The sun isn’t the only source of UV radiation. Avoid tanning beds, which also emit dangerous UV rays.
  • Boost your sun protection by wearing a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Whenever possible, stay in the shade when the sunlight is strongest (i.e., during the middle of the day).
  • Never stare at the sun during an eclipse.
  • Schedule annual eye exams, particularly if you are in your fifties or older, to check for signs of macular degeneration and other diseases. Early-stage macular degeneration may be slowed by taking certain precautions.

For more information about protecting yourself from macular degeneration and other threats to your retinal health, Elman Retina Group is here to help. Give us a call or send us an email today to request an appointment with our experienced retinal specialists.