May 11, 2009

Sunglasses have health benefits

Two U.S. ophthalmologists say wearing protective sunglasses helps preserve eye health.

Dr. Donald J. D'Amico and Dr. Stephen Trokel, both of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, warn overexposure to the sun can not only cause skin cancer of the eyelids, but cornea sunburn and vision-blocking tissue growth. It has also been implicated in the development of cataracts and, possibly, macular degeneration.

There are strong indications that chronic exposure to the components of sunlight may accelerate aging of ocular tissues, Trokel says in a statement. Any protective eyewear should have side shield protection or wrap around the eye so light cannot enter the eye from side reflections.

The doctors advise to get sunglasses:

-- That are labeled over 95 percent UV protection.

-- That have a lens tint -- such as neutral gray, amber, brown or green -- that blocks 80 percent of transmissible light, but no more than 90 percent to 92 percent of light.

-- That can be worn over contact lenses because sunglasses help prevent the drying effects of warm wind.

-- For infants because eyes should always be shaded from direct exposure to the sun.