Sun Protection Basics for Contact Lens Wearers
Summer is upon us - and we are all concerned about protecting ourselves from the effects of sun damage, in particular UV rays. In the 21st century, the dangers of UV exposure on the skin are well-documented. Wearing SPF lotions, sprays, and powders is strongly encouraged not just by the medical field, but by the beauty community as well. UV damage causes premature aging of the skin as well as many other health issues, including skin cancer.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as diligent in protecting their eyes from exposure to those same rays. And they can be just as harmful to your eyes as they are to your skin! Kind of scary to think about, huh? Don’t worry - we have some helpful tips for you!
What are the Effects of Sun UV Damage on My Eyes?
There may be even more negative effects of UV exposure to your eyes than have even been discovered. But here’s what we know…
First, we will cover the short-term effects. Photokeratitis is a condition that is similar to a sunburn on the cornea and occurs as a result of direct sunlight exposure for long periods of time. It often feels like there is sand or grit in your eye, which can be very painful. It typically improves over time with the use of lubrication, like eye drops.
Long term effects of sun damage can include cataracts, and macular degeneration. Ptyergia and pingueculae are growths on the top of the eye that grow into the cornea and occur mostly in people who work outdoors or live in Southern states.
What Can I Do About It?
Accessorize (and Maybe Even Hide a Bad Hair Day)
Hats can shade your eyes from the sun and reduce not only damage, but summer eye strain as well. Keep in mind that hats with brims don’t offer protection from UV rays that are reflected from surfaces like pavement, sand, and water.
What are Reflected UV Rays?
Water reflects up to 100% UV light
Snow reflects up to 85% UV light
Dry sand and concrete reflects up to 25% UV light
-- Basically, that means even if you’re looking at the ground, you’re still exposing your eyes to UV rays.
Pick a Great Pair of Shades
When choosing a pair of sunglasses, what you’re looking for is a pair that blocks 98-99% of both UVA and UVB rays.
They don’t have to be polarized - but polarized lenses tend to also come with the complete UV protection you need, and the polarization neutralizes the glare we experience in the early morning and at dusk.
Look for sunglasses with full coverage - ideally wrap-around frames that block the sun’s harmful rays from creeping in from the side. You’re looking for a UV400 protection level.
Wear UV Protection Contact Lenses
Does it get any easier than that?! You’re wearing contacts anyway - you might as well demand they do double duty!
Do My Contacts Protect Me From UV Damage?
Listen CAREFULLY! NOT ALL contact lenses block UV light. Typical contact lenses allow 90% of UVA and 70% of UVB radiation to pass through to the eyes. Do not consider your typical contact lenses to be a protective measure.
Those that do come in two classes. Class 1 UV blockers provide the greatest protection. To date, the most protective contact lenses block at least 90% of the UVA and 99% of the UVB rays that reach the lens itself. Class 2 lenses block 70% of UV-A and 95% of UV-B. Overall, your best bet is to wear your contact lenses in conjunction with high quality sunglasses - those with UV400 protection.
Where Do I Find These Magical Lenses?
No worries - we’ve got you! EyeCandy’s offers UV protective contact lenses in not just clear, but also the colored styles you love!
Prescription, plano, even Toric lenses come with UV protection. Daily, monthly, six month, and yearly wear cycles are available.
In short, you’ve got options!
Acuvue Define Radiant Sweet is a great circle lens that blends beautifully with brown eyes. Holicat Sexy Brown offers three tones that will lighten up dark eyes for a gorgeous transformation! And Clalen Iris M Grace Grey can give you just the eye appeal you desire if you’re looking for a more unique look. And we have tons more to choose from. Browse our collection of UV protection contact lenses here.