As long as sunglasses protect you from UV-A and UV-B wavelengths of sunlight, the sunglasses are OK. Look for the label on the sunglasses to see if they have the proper protection. The effects of UV radiation on the eye are complex and fall into three categories…

  1. UV radiation is known to cause many changes on the surface of the eye. These changes, called actinic, are the cause of pingucula, a harmless, yellowish thickening on the white of the eye. Although not dangerous, they are a frequent cause of eye irritation.
  2. The effect of UV radiation on the lens of the eye is much less certain. There are some studies that suggest that certain types of cataracts may be more frequent in those who are exposed to a lifetime of strong sun exposure.
  3. The macula, the central portion of the retina responsible for clear vision, seems to be more susceptible to macular degeneration after many years of unprotected sun exposure. The macula of those exposed people have a deficiency of lutein and zeaxanthin and therefore these compounds are usually found in multi-vitamin products designed for eye protection.