Summer is an obvious time to think about investing in a good pair of sunglasses. The sun seems to blast us more often than during other times. But dangerous ultraviolet rays don’t discriminate by season—the sun is doing its job all year long.
That means your cornea, lens, retina, and even your eyelids, are at risk for short- and long-term damage from sun exposure. You’re in more jeopardy if the iris of your eyes is a lighter color—or you’re a kid. Children’s pupils are larger than adults and their lenses can’t yet filter some UV rays. Those who live in the South or at high elevations, like many states in the West, are also more vulnerable.
Here’s what you should know about protecting your eyes during every season of the year.
Summer: It’s clearly an important time to wear UV-blocking sunglasses daily, mostly because we’re outside more often enjoying warm-weather activities. We’re at risk due to prolonged exposure, but also because of the intensity that comes when 25% of UV rays reflect off of water. So water sports, pool activities and fishing on a river can all amplify our interaction with the sun.
Winter: That reflection issue is especially bad in the winter when snow really throws the sun’s rays right back in our faces. In fact snow-covered surfaces like ski slopes can reflect as much as 80% of UV rays. That’s why we wear goggles. But don’t forget that you really need sunglasses—polarized are awesome for glare—during all snow-related activities, from sledding to shoveling.
Shoulder seasons: While spring and fall could bring more storms and more intermittent cloud cover due to variable weather patterns, we can’t let our guard down in the transition seasons. Even on cloudy days, more than 30% of UV rays are still coming through the atmosphere. You might change up your sunglasses to a model that helps illuminate things in changing conditions, but keep those shades handy all year long.