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Winter Sun Exposure and Your Eyes

Winter has officially arrived, which means in some parts of the country stinging winds and frigid rain, snow and sleet are also on their way. Most of us would never even contemplate of leaving the house without a coat in icy conditions, but unfortunately, a lot of people don't think to put on their sunglasses. Although the sun may not be our primary consideration when we are venturing out to the bitter cold, the sun's rays are still in full force during the winter months, and sometimes can be even more powerful.

They didn't write a song called "winter wonderland" for no reason. In particular in the aftermath of a blizzard, the world around takes on a glistening glow as a result of the sunlight reflecting off of the snowy cover blanketing the ground and the trees. In fact, for many it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outside after a heavy snow. The UV radiation that many of us are so careful about in the heat of the summer can actually be more hazardous in the winter because it bounces off the snow or ice, resulting in double exposure. This is why proper sunglasses are a crucial winter accessory.

While you want to feel great in your sunglasses, the most important consideration when choosing sunglasses is being certain they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays by looking for confirmation that they are labeled UV 400 (this means they block all light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.) The good news is you don't necessarily have to purchase designer glasses to guarantee adequate coverage for your eyes. Many of the more inexpensive options exist that still provide total ultraviolet defense.

Another important feature in choosing sun wear is size. You will have the most protection when your glasses are large enough to completely guard your eyes and the surrounding areas. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful radiation will be able to get past your sunglasses. Glasses with side shield will also keep harmful rays from entering from the sides.

Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are essential beach gear because the water reflects sunlight, this also applies to frozen water sources including ice and snow. Consequently it is equally important to wear sunglasses during times when you go out in wintery conditions. Also UV radiation is more powerful at high altitudes, so if you have plans to hit the slopes keep this in mind.

Be informed about the dangers of UV damage to your eyes throughout the year. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.