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Do Your Safety Sunglasses Really Protect Your Eyes from the Sun?

As North Americans are planning worksite operations and completions work, many may be contemplating buying a new pair of stylish  safety sunglasses. [P bar Y Safety] reminds consumers to also be sure their favorite sunglasses provide quality protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Overexposure to UV rays can cause eye and vision problems—and that’s no way to remember a fun day of outdoor adventures on site or in the field.

Your checklist for sunglasses

To be sure your sunglasses will adequately protect your eyes, follow these tips.

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

· Your 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 to the shape of your face. This prevents exposure to UV rays from all sides, even from behind.

· Pick lenses that are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection.

· Lenses should also have a uniform tint, not darker in one area from another. The Safety suggests a gray tint, which is particularly helpful when driving as it offers the best color recognition.

Short- and long-term effects of UV exposure

If the eyes are unprotected and exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, even just a few hours, individuals may experience an effect called photokeratitis, known as a “sunburn of the eye.”

“Photokeratitis may be painful and include symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing,” said P bar Y Safety. “Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.”

Long-term overexposure to UV radiation over the course of one’s life can cause more serious problems, such as damage to the eye, which can result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the white of the eye onto the cornea, or clear window at the front of the eye) and cancer of the eyelids, skin around the eye and even the eye itself.

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