The lazy days of summer are a time many of us look forward to year-round. But with the seasonal fun comes the need for a few safety measures. Most people are aware of the need to wear quality sunscreen and to stay hydrated, but many aren’t familiar with the dangers the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause to their eyes. While it can impact people of all ages, the threat is even more serious for older adults.
Years of unprotected sun exposure can damage the eye and can cause cataracts, cancer, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65. Seniors who venture to beaches or spend time at the pool face an even greater risk of vison issues. That’s because water and sand reflect the sun’s rays, doubling the exposure to ultraviolet light.
Protecting Your Vision as You Age
Sunglasses offer the best defense against harmful solar radiation. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says wearing sunglasses year-round, including on cloudy and hazy days, can help protect an older adult’s vision. But it’s important to invest in a pair of good quality sunglasses. The right sunglasses will shield your eyes and safeguard your sight:
- Block UVA and UVB rays: Effective sunscreens protect skin from both UVA and UVB light rays. Your sunglasses should do the same. Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays or that offer “400UV protection.” If you don’t see a label on the sunglasses, don’t buy them.
- Buy from a reputable seller: Flea markets, street vendors and online auctions might offer incredible deals, but you cannot be sure that the UV protection ratings are accurate. It’s better to buy your sunglasses from an eye-care center or quality store.
- Consider photochromic lenses: If you or your senior loved one wear eyeglasses, consider investing in photochromic lenses. These block UV rays and automatically darken when exposed to sunlight. This can be useful for older adults who have dementia and need to be reminded to wear their sunglasses.
- Invest in prescription sunglasses: Ordering a set of prescription sunglasses from the eye doctor is another option. They block 100% of the harmful ultraviolet light while also giving you the corrective vision you need. Many eye-care providers offer specials on multiple pairs.
- Wear wraparound frames: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends seniors wear wraparound frames that fully shield the front, sides, and top of the eye from damaging UV rays. Wraparounds are available in a number of styles and at a variety of price points.
Choose the Right Features for Your Sunglasses
If you aren’t sure what the features you hear about do, and if you really need any of them, here’s a quick overview:
- Polarized lenses won’t block harmful UV light, but they do help eliminate glare and reflection. This is a great feature for older adults who drive.
- The color of the lens doesn’t impact UV protection. It can, however, affect comfort level. People who have had cataract surgery might find amber lenses or “blue light blockers” less irritating on their eyes.
- Don’t evaluate sunglasses based on how dark the lenses are. While darker ones might reduce brightness and reduce squinting, they don’t offer any higher UV protection.
if there are other steps you can take to protect your vision? The article What Are the Most Common Causes of Vision Loss in Seniors? covers a variety of eye issues and provides suggestions on how to avoid them.
Schedule a Visit to Sunrise This Summer
At Sunrise communities, we take a holistic approach to wellness. That means we focus on the well-being of each individual resident. From nutrition to physical fitness and life enrichment activities, the best way to learn more is by visiting in person. Call us at 888-717-9139 to set up a time!