The Importance of UV Protection: Why Sunglasses are Essential in Winter

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We can all see why, on those blazing summer days, sunglasses are a need. But what about winters? Today we will talk about why sunglasses are essential in winter.

You may be thinking, “It's finally chilly, and the sky's all cloudy, so no sunglasses are needed here, right?” Completely wrong! Because UV rays can slip through, playing hide-and-seek with our eyes, even when it's freezing outside, or the clouds are moving in. This weather can reflect UV rays, making them considerably more dangerous, especially with the snow and all.

Most people associate sunglasses with beach or boat trips only, but they're essential for eye protection in all weather. I must mention that fitting is crucial with so many brands and styles, just like my husband, who likes wearing Oakley sunglasses on his beach trips. 

Why Sunglasses are Essential in Winter

This post will discuss the reasons why wearing high-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes is crucial throughout the winter. Because protecting your eyes from UV rays becomes more challenging!

sunglasses in winter

UV Rays Present in Winter – How Are They So Harmful?

UV rays are always present, even if the winter sun may not feel as strong as the summer sun does. All year round, the sun emits UV radiation. Thus, even on gloomy or chilly winter days, one might still be exposed to UV rays.

If we talk about the concept of rays coming down to earth, so, regardless of the weather or temperature, the sun emits UVA and UVB radiation that reach Earth at constant amounts. Longer wavelength UVA rays can pass through the ozone layer, whereas shorter wavelength UVB rays are absorbed by it. Even if the sun's angle is lower in the winter, UVA rays still reach the earth directly.

You will be shocked that a huge percentage (95%) of UV light that reaches the Earth's surface is UVA radiation, with UVB rays being largely blocked in the winter. These UVA rays can reflect off of several surfaces, including water, ice, and snow. Because of this, wintertime UV exposure can often be higher than summertime UV exposure because of reflection raising the ambient UV level.

Significant Damage Caused By Ultraviolet Radiation From The Sun

When we talk about UV radiation's subtle but consistent effects on skin and eyes, it is important to know that each time we enter the sun, those rays work. Though hidden, the damage accumulates.

Just think about it: Over time, too much sun can cause wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. UV rays slip past our skin's defenses, even if we tan.

Our eyes are on the game now. Years of sun exposure can cause cataracts and macular degeneration in old age. UV rays attack our lens, cornea, retina, and other eye parts like a mission.

Reflection Raises Exposure

Bright surfaces like snow, ice, and water reflect UV radiation even in winter. This reflection increases UV exposure since rays bounce off these surfaces and reach skin and eyes from different angles.

Fresh snow can deflect 80% of UV radiation [research shows]. 

As snow ages and becomes frozen and granular, its reflecting capability diminishes but can reach 60%. Still, water reflects nearly all UV radiation. Wintertime UV exposure from snow, ice, and water is much higher than from soil or concrete.

UV reflection from bright surfaces can cause sunburn even in chilly weather. More critically, indirect UV radiation from reflection can harm eyes long-term even without glare. Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, and fishing require UV protection, which is why Ray-Ban glasses can be essential.

UV Eye Damage

Ultraviolet radiation can harm vision and eye health over time. Some main concerns:

  • Cataracts: UV exposure clouds the eye lens, blurring vision. 
  • Macular degeneration: This disorder destroys the macula, which provides sharp central vision. 
  • Photokeratitis: Eye sunburn. UV radiation can damage the outer eye layer, producing pain, light sensitivity, weeping, and sand in the eyes. 
  • Chronic UV exposure: can induce Pterygium, which grows tissue on the eye whites. 
  • Skin cancer around the eyes: UV damage can harm the sensitive eyelid and ocular skin. 

Even in winter, when the sun's glare off snow may nearly quadruple UV exposure, excellent sunglasses are essential to protect eyes from UV radiation. Eye health must be prioritized year-round.

Importance of Sunglasses

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV harm year-round, including winter. Proper sunglasses block 99-100% of UV rays, protecting your eyes.

Though the sun's rays seem less powerful in winter, UV exposure is still deadly. It can reach your eyes through cloudy winter clouds up to 80%. Another glare amplifier is snow, which reflects 80% of UV radiation.

Without eye protection (sunglasses), UV radiation can cause long-term harm. Chemical reactions can burn the cornea and induce cataracts, macular degeneration, and eye growths. Children are vulnerable if their glasses are clearer (of eyesight).

Bottom Line

Now that we know why sunglasses are essential in winter, it is important to understand that buying decent sunglasses is one of the easiest methods to protect your eyes year-round. Choose lenses that block 100% UVA and UVB. Polarised glasses reduce driving and winter sports glare. Outdoors, the correct shades preserve your vision and keep your eyes healthy and comfortable.

So go for a good pair of glasses and enjoy winter safely!

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