At this point, you (better) know that stocking up on SPF for the sunny summer months is a must. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5.4 million new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer pop up each year. Those damaging UVA and UVB rays are not something you want to mess with.
But even if you’re religious about applying your SPF 30 every two hours, you might still be leaving one area of your body vulnerable to the sun’s cancer-causing rays: your eyes.
When it comes to your eyes, sun exposure can cause everything from sunburned eyes (yes, that’s a real thing that can happen) to cataracts—or even contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss. And according to a new report from the Vision Council, even though most of us express concern over the fact that the sun can damage our eyes, only 31 percent of us are wearing sunglasses as often as we should be (which is every time we go outside).
You might not realize it, but your eyes are exposed to UV rays all the time—not just when you’re driving, which is when you’re most likely to reach for the shades. Concrete reflects 25 percent of UV rays, and snow reflects 85 percent. But the beach is by far the worst culprit: Water will reflect 100 percent of those damaging UV rays into your eyes.
But it’s important to note all sunglasses are not created equal when it comes to offering protection. Look for sunglasses marked “UV 400.” This means they protect your eyes from 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. If you’re unsure about your latest steal, you can have them checked by an optometrist. Or hey, consider this your excuse to splurge on a new pair.