Eye Protection in the Sun

When it comes to protecting ourselves from the sun, we typically think clothing and sunscreen are our best bets. While many of us wear sunglasses for comfort to shield the glare of sunlight, they actually could be saving our eyes!


The ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause an assortment of eye damage, beyond wrinkling and aging. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s website states that skin cancers of the eyelid “account for 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers.” Additionally, long-term exposure to the sun can cause:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Benign Growths, such as Pterygia and Pingeuculae
  • Keratitis (or “Snow Blindness”)


It’s not all doom and gloom for the eyes. Just like with our skin, we can take protective measures to keep our eyes healthy.

  • Sunglasses – They should be durable and guard against both UVA and UVB radiation. Bonus points for glasses which are polarized (this eliminates glare) and also protect against HEV light.
  • Hats – Wide-brimmed hats protect our eyes and the skin on our face.
  • Even with contact lenses that offer UV protection, sunglasses are still recommended.
  • Clouds do not sufficiently shield the sun from our eyes, and all preventive measures should be taken on clear and cloudy days alike.
  • Since snow and water surfaces reflect UV rays back into our eyes, we experience double exposure. When doing winter or water sports, take extra precaution and use sufficient protective gear.

Here are a couple of infographics from The Vision Council on eye safety and the sun: