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We all know that it’s important to protect our skin from the sun to lower our risk of cancer and skin damage. But did you also know that it’s just as important to protect your eyes?

As well as causing eye strain and headaches, UV rays emitted by the sun can lead to macular degeneration which is one of the leading causes of blindness as we get older.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to protect your eyes while still enjoying the sunshine.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are probably the most intuitive way to protect your eyes from damage, but it’s important that you choose the right ones. A lot of sunglasses look great, but they aren’t actually providing you with any protection. This is especially true of older sunglasses, so be particularly wary if you’re into vintage fashion.

If you’re buying a new pair of sunglasses, look out for ones that have a label saying that they offer 100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays. If your favorite sunglasses don’t have a label, you can take them to your optician to be tested – it usually takes less than a minute.

Dark sunglasses will help to stop you from squinting in bright light, which is good news if you’re looking to prevent eye strain. However, it’s even more important that dark sunglasses offer adequate UV protection because they will cause your pupils to dilate to allow more light in. If they aren’t also protecting them against UV rays, you are potentially allowing more harmful UV rays to get into your eyes.

Contact lenses

If you don’t fancy wearing sunglasses, perhaps you’re attending an event and you want people to see your face, or perhaps you just like to be able to move around without fear of them falling off, then a good alternative to sunglasses is UV protection contact lenses.

These lenses are designed to protect your eyes from UV rays without impacting your vision.

If you’re worried about contact lenses – don’t be. They’re designed to be comfortable to wear, and easy to take in and out. After a while, you’ll find that you can’t even feel them.

Hats

It’s a good idea to wear a wide-brimmed hat in addition to your sunglasses or lenses to further protect your eyes against UV rays. Hats will block roughly half of the UV rays to which you are exposed, and as a bonus, they will help to protect you from the heat of the sun.

Hats are a good defense against rays that aren’t blocked by your sunglasses and they also prevent your scalp from getting burned which is easily done, particularly if you are fair-haired.

Avoid peak times

The sun is at its brightest between 10 am and 4 pm, so it’s best to avoid being outside for long periods during those hours – particularly if you are near water or snow as this will reflect the sun’s rays and make them even brighter.

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