Protecting the Eyes from the Sun [A Health Power Tip Sheet]

Wearing sunglasses is not just about looking good.

Wearing sunglasses when outdoors helps to protect the eyes in two ways:Protecting the Eyes from the Sun

  • They filter the light, and
  • They help protect the eyes from damaging ultra-violet (UV) rays.


Protecting the eyes when outdoors is important because everyone is at risk for eye problems caused by the sun.
The risk of sun related eye problems is higher for people in the following groups:

  • People who work or spend long hours in the sun.
  • People who have had cataract surgery; and
  • People who are on certain medicines, like some antibiotics, birth control pills, water pills and tranquilizers that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light.

Tips for Buying Sunglasses:

  • Check the label because protective sunglasses should block out 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Get sunglasses that reduce glare and don’t interfere with colors.
  • Be sure the sunglasses will be comfortable to wear.
  • In addition, wear a wide-brimmed hat along with the sunglasses to block the sunlight from overhead.

Repeated long-term exposure to UV rays can cause:

  • cataracts
  • skin cancer around the eyelids
  • other eye problems

Since children are at even greater risk of harm from the sun’s UV rays than adults, it’s important that they also wear sunglasses when outdoors.

Tips for Buying Sunglasses for Children:

  • Make sure the sunglasses fit well.
  • The lenses should be impact resistant and should not pop out of the frames.
  • Choose lenses that are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles.
  • With children just as with adults, also find or buy a wide-brimmed hat for the child to wear along with the sunglasses.

Remember the Health Power Motto, or Tagline: Knowledge+Action = Power!®

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