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Not all sunglasses are created equal: Cleveland Clinic doctor offers advice when buying your next pair

Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 22:22:42-04

CLEVELAND — While we don’t get too much sun in Northeast Ohio, the summer months are the time when we get the most of the sun’s rays. Doctors at Cleveland Clinic are urging everyone to wear proper protection.

Dr. Rishi Singh, a retina surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic, said that not all sunglasses are created equal when it comes to proper eye protection.

“The biggest thing you want to look at when you look at sunglasses is both protection for UVA and UVB light,” he said. “It might not say that on the glasses, but if it says up to 400 nanometers of light protection that’s a good sign that you have 99% or greater of those light sources eliminated.”

He said that doctors are diagnosing eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer of the eye at a much higher rate than before. Singh said increased sun exposure is partly to blame.

“Losing your vision and your eyes can be one of the most depressing and certainly life changing scenarios,” he said. “We talk to our patients about that a lot, making sure sun exposure is minimized, especially during the summer months to help them prevent the progression of these sorts of diseases.”

He said that just because your sunglasses are more expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better at protecting your eyes.

“It's actually the type of lens that's in the actual glasses that matter the most and what protection they offer in regard to ultraviolet light and their effect on doing that,” said Singh.

He said that polarized verses unpolarized doesn’t make a difference in protection, it just takes away the glare.

You can check the amount of protection on your glasses by buying a UV flashlight, shining it against a dollar bill until the watermark lights up and putting your glasses over it, if the watermark disappears then your glasses are good to go.

Singh said that there is no research to prove that UV protection on sunglasses expire.