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Winter Sun Exposure and Your Eyes

It's official! Winter is here, which means in some parts of the country stinging winds and cold precipitation aren't far behind. The majority of us wouldn't ever contemplate of leaving the house without a coat in cooler climates; nevertheless unfortunately, far too many people leave their sunglasses behind. While the sun isn't always our primary concern when we are venturing out to the freezing winter climate, the sun's rays are still a present danger in colder climates, and in many instances can be even stronger.

If you find yourself snowed in, you should be even more cautious. Especially following a blizzard, the blanket of snow covering the world around you, actually magnifies the reflection of the sun. In fact, for many it can downright hurt your eyes when you first leave the house after a fresh snowfall. The ultraviolet radiation that most of us are so vigilant in avoiding in the heat of the summer may actually be more hazardous in the colder season since it bounces off the snow or ice, giving you double exposure. This is why a sturdy pair of sunglasses is a necessary part of your winter attire.

Although you want to pick a style you look good in, the most important part of deciding upon a pair of sunglasses is checking that they provide adequate protection against UV. Ensure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by checking for confirmation that they are labeled UV 400 (this means they block all light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.) The good news is you don't necessarily have to purchase designer glasses for adequate protection from UV. Many of the more reasonably priced brands are made with full UV defense.

Another important factor in choosing sun wear is size. You will have the most protection when your glasses are large enough to completely cover your eyes and the surrounding areas. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to enter. Glasses with side shield will also keep radiation from entering from the periphery.

Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are essential beach gear because the water intensifies UV radiation, this is also true for snow and ice. Consequently it is equally critical to put on sunglasses during times when you go out in wintery conditions. Additionally ultraviolet exposure is more forceful at high altitudes, so if you plan to go skiing or snowboarding, take this into consideration.

Make a point to be in the know about proper eye protection throughout the year. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.


Please be advised that all office visits including exams, frame selections, repairs, pick-ups, and drop-offs are by appointment only. We are required to wear a face mask in our office and ask that you bring yours to your appointment.

We are happy to serve our patients and community and are committed to keeping you as safe as possible.

Thank you.

The Shuswap Optometric Team