After a long, hard winter indoors, we’re all eager to spend more time outside. As we head into the great outdoors this year, pandemic safety measures such as physical distancing will be top of mind — but remember it’s also important to protect your eyes from the sun.
Ultraviolet radiation is a form of energy produced by the sun. These UV rays can cause damage and disease in our eyes. In Canada, UV rays are most intense during the spring and summer months. So while you’re shopping for this year’s sunglasses, remember to look for safety as well as style. \
Health Canada offers these tips for protecting against harmful UV rays:
Wear Sunglasses Or Eyeglasses With UV-Protective Lenses
If you choose them properly, sunglasses will protect your eyes against damage from UV rays and visible light.
Check the UV Index For Your Area
When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective sunglasses, clothing and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. In Canada, the UV index can be 3 or higher between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and it generally reaches its peak at solar noon (between 12 and 1 p.m.)
Avoid Bright Sunlight
When your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Limit your time in the sun and look for places with lots of shade, like a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents.
Wear Sunglasses When Driving
When driving a vehicle in bright sunlight, sunglasses can reduce glare and improve contrast.
You can boost eye protection from UV rays by also wearing a hat. According to the Specialty Eye Institute, a hat will block roughly half the UV rays you are exposed to. A wide-brimmed hat “gives you a better defense against rays that may penetrate above or around your sunglasses.” For the most protection, the Institute recommends choosing a hat with an effective UV rating.
If your plans involve activities that make wearing a hat difficult — such as mountain biking or rock climbing — the website All About Vision offers suggestions for buying close-fitting or wrap-around sunglasses that “hug the contours of your face” and “shade the area around your eyes.”
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