If you live here in Naples, Florida even part-time, you’ve probably experience the effects of prolonged sun exposure on your skin. Rashes, irritation, splotches, even moderate or severe sunburn can occur within just 20 minutes of being in direct sunlight.

But did you know that when it comes to damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays, your eyes are 10 times more vulnerable than your skin? Because their job is to collect and transmit visual data to your brain, the surface of your eyes needs to be more sensitive to changes in light. This means that being outdoors during the day time with no eye protection for more than a minute or two can be dangerous.


The Sun Problem

Short-term exposure to UV rays can cause the cornea (the transparent membrane at the front of your eye), and the conjunctiva (the clear coating on the white parts of your eyes) to become inflamed. Like rashes or sun splotches on your skin, this irritation can temporarily cause blurry vision and a burning sensation. While this usually resolves after ending your sun exposure or by going indoors, you should call your optometrist if the irritation persists.

Spending long periods of time in the sun, even in the winter or spring months, can cause a more serious condition called ultraviolet keratitis (sometimes called photokeratitis). This condition is essentially a sunburn on your cornea. And just like a sunburn on your skin, ultraviolet keratitis can vary in severity. This condition causes pain and itchiness in the eyes for as long as 48 hours and, in more severe cases, can even cause blurred vision or temporary loss of vision. While symptoms of this condition can certainly fade over time, it’s best to make an appointment with your eye care professional for evaluation.

Certain activities can make time spent outdoors even harder on your eyes. Beachgoers and boaters are at a higher risk for eye conditions stemming from UV exposure because the surface of the water reflects additional sunlight into your eyes. And while your body does have the extraordinary ability to heal itself, repeated damage to the eyes can add up over time. So what are some best practices for maintaining good eye health while you’re having fun in the Naples sun?


The Sunglasses Solution

No matter the time of year, the right pair of sunglasses is really the key factor in keeping your eyes safe outdoors. While certain people have a higher risk for sun damage (especially those with light-colored eyes and fair skin), no person is exempt from the potential for short-term or even lasting effects of prolonged sun exposure. Here are a few considerations for choosing the best sunglasses for you:

  1. Protection – The UV400 standard indicates that the sunglass lenses have been optimized to limit exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation. The width of light rays is measured in a unit of metric span, just like any other measure of distance. UV400 protection means that the lenses will filter (or “block”) light rays as small as 400nm (nanometers). Since more than 99% of the sun’s rays are wider than 400nm, this means more than 99% of harmful radiation is kept from your eyes.
  2. Polarization – Especially for sunglasses in Naples, Florida, polarization is a key lens feature. Because they can cause glare from many different directions, surfaces like windows, water, and even buildings can compound the UV rays hitting your eyes. Polarized lenses are coated with a unique chemical film that reduces glare by only allowing light to travel through the lens in a single direction. Don’t let darker lenses fool you into thinking they’re more effective for reducing sun exposure, though. While these tinted lenses will reduce brightness, they will not reduce UV rays from glare.
  3. Prescriptions – If you wear prescription glasses, spending time outdoors can be a problem. Wearing non-prescription sunglasses for long periods of time can cause unnecessary eye fatigue and straining. While wearing regular, clear prescription glasses causes exposure to harmful UV rays. The best solution is to have a pair of properly-fitted sunglasses in your prescription.

For more information on specialty lenses for outdoor activities like golfing, fishing, boating, or to learn more about our hand-picked selection of designer sunglasses that are ideal for the Naples lifestyle, call us today at 239.451.6975 or stop by our store in the Strada at Mercato Naples!