Monday, May 4, 2009
The Sunglasses Myth
Tod Schimelpfenig over at NOLS has been investigating the notion that cheap sunglasses can keep your pupils dilated and cause sunburn of the retina. Experts questioned by Tod agree this is a myth. Simply stated, not enough radiation is going to reach the retina to cause a burn, even with intensely reflected light from snow, and even with really inexpensive sunglasses. But there's more at risk than your retina! If your cheap sunglasses have low UV protection you most likely will increase your risk of injury to the cornea--the risk of snowblindness. And, over time, the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and even eye cancer. Cheap sunglasses, however, can have high UV protection, which is, of course, what you want--and need. Bottom line: Your sunglasses need to provide protection as complete as possible from all ultraviolet light, and they need to wrap around to keep UV light from creeping in from the side. You don't have to pay a lot of money for protection, but you do have to pay a lot of attention to what you're purchasing.