When a mothers winter mantra of mittens and gloves gives way to spring, we expect to hear: "Where's your hat and sunglasses?"
Let's face it — Moms are in the know. The dog days of summer are accompanied by steep increases in time spent outdoors soaking up the suns rays.
UVA and UVB rays during these summer months are "at least three times higher than during the winter," according to the Foundation of the American Academy of Opthalmology.
Winter or summer, the sun is capable of burning the surface of the eye causing a painful condition called photokeratitis - which in turn increases the risk of developing other diabetic eye conditions.
From the baseball field to the picnic bench and everywhere in between — wearing protective eye wear is incredibly important — especially when living with any form diabetes.
What To Look For In Protective Eye wear
- The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing 99 percent and above UV-absorbent sunglasses along with a brimmed hat. Some labels may read: "UV absorption up to 400nm." This indicates a 99 percent UV-absorbency as well. Polarized lenses have nothing to do with UV protection; they simply cut reflected glare.
- Choose a dark lens for very bright days and a medium lens for every day use. The mirroring or color of the lens doesn't indicate UV protection levels.
- Frames with larger lenses that wrap around the eye provide more protection from the rays that can seep around the edges of smaller lenses.
Is A $5 Pair As Protective As A $100 Pair?
Unfortunately, price isn't an indicator of quality; some knock-off designer labels are more harmful than forgoing sunglasses altogether according to the New York Times. Cheap lenses with a dark tint will relax the pupils, inviting more light into the retina than if you weren't wearing any at all (ugh).
The good news is that you can find sunglasses that fit both doctor recommendations and your budget — even in the $10 range. In lieu of those sidewalk vendors, stick to name brand stores with detailed labeling.
$$ SAVING TIP: Most eye doctors have a UV meter. Bring your well-loved sunglasses in and they can easily tell you how protective they are.
Tips From Joslin Diabetes Center
Wear sunglasses all year long. Glare from winter snow, skiing at high elevations or simply driving your car can result in eye damage.
Don't let the seasons fool you. Snow reflects nearly 80 percent of the sun’s rays; dry beach sand reflects only 15 percent, according to The New York Times.
Eye disease can be painless. Getting regular eye exams can catch problems in their early stages when they're most treatable.
Your vision doesn't serve as an indicator of eye health. You may not experience visual changes with an eye disease; it takes a comprehensive eye exam to unearth eye issues according to the American Diabetes Association.
Get an annual dilated eye exam.
Seek treatment between appointments if you notice changes in your eyes. Treatments may vary from simple eye glasses to laser surgery or medications.
Three extra things you can do to protect your eyes: Quit smoking, keep your blood sugars within range, and control your blood pressure.
Common Eye Conditions With Diabetes
Risks of these conditions are upwards of 60 percent when compared with the general population, which is nothing to scoff at. Thankfully, diagnostic tools and technology have changed making it possible to catch eye diseases early on — resulting in positive outcomes to preserve our precious sight.
To learn more about diabetes and your eyes:
Cataracts and Glaucoma: The Other Diabetic Eye Complications
Eye Exams with Diabetes: Why They’re Important
Preventing Vision Loss from Diabetes