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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Dawn Devaney Gammon, OD, FAAO
Winterize Your Eyes
The Eyewear Gallery
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Winterize Your Eyes

Hat, gloves, scarf, and boots – when we think of winter, all of these essential accessories come to mind. But relatively few people think to add sunglasses to that list. Sunglasses are more of a summer accessory, right? Wrong!
What many people don’t realize is that damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays can be more dangerous in winter. Wintertime brings a double-exposure danger to eyes – first from the sun itself, and then from the snow reflecting a second dose of UV into the eyes.
The winter sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle than during warmer seasons giving you more exposure. Also, some winter conditions heighten susceptibility to UV damage, particularly with high-altitude sports or conditions that involve snow or ice.
In summer, green surroundings only reflect about 6% of light, 15% from sand. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV radiation, which means that the exposure is close to double. On top of that, UV exposure also increases by approximately 10 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
Sunlight contains both UV and blue light. UV light is part of the non-visible light spectrum and we are exposed to it every day when we’re out in the sun. It can cause damage to our eyes, particularly the skin, cornea and the lens.
The cumulative effect can contribute to cataracts and the potential for abnormal growths on the eyes. Snow blindness with symptoms such as redness, puffiness around the eyes, burning, watering and sensitivity to light, is also a danger.
Blue light, which is part of the visible light spectrum, reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Wearing shades during the cold weather months can even lessen the symptoms of dry eyes. Sunglasses guard the eyes from wind, blowing debris, snow and ice. They decrease evaporation of your tears, so eyes will feel less irritated and get less red.
Lastly, sunglasses are a stylish accessory that enhance your vision by reducing glare, preventing squinting and eye fatigue. Excessive squinting can lead to wrinkles. So keep your sunglasses on to keep the wrinkles away.
Not all sunglasses are created equal. Just because a pair of shades has dark lenses doesn’t mean they will protect you. As your first line of defense against harmful UV rays and blue light, high-quality sunglasses are a wise investment for the best protection and superior optical clarity. After all, we only have one set of eyes, so care for them all year round.

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