Why Sunglasses are Important for Eye Health in the Midwest Winter

Love the long days of a Midwest summer? Excited by the beauty of its frosty winters? No matter the season, protecting your eyes is a must! At Illinois Eye Center, we know that sunglasses might not be your go-to winter accessory, but did you know the winter’s UV rays reflecting off the snow can be dangerous to your eyes? Join us as we uncover the hidden risks of winter glare and show you why sunglasses are a year-round essential for your vision health. 

Understanding UV Rays

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is an invisible component of sunlight that, depending on its intensity and frequency, can be both beneficial and harmful. When it comes to the eyes, exposure to high doses of UV rays is linked to an increased risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and even certain kinds of eye cancers.

Winter Sun and UV Exposure

It’s a common misconception that the winter sun is benign compared to the summer’s searing rays. In reality, the UV index can be just as high or even higher in the winter months due to the Earth’s position relative to the sun and a thinner ozone layer. The snow-covered ground acts like a mirror, reflecting and intensifying UV rays, and the prolonged glare can be particularly damaging.

The amplified UV exposure in winter comes with a set of risks. From photokeratitis, a painful but usually temporary form of sunburn to the eyes, to potential long-term damage, the consequences can be severe. For instance, snow blindness, akin to a sunburn on the eye’s cornea, can lead to vision loss and, disturbingly, it’s a real threat while skiing or participating in other snow activities, especially at higher altitudes.

Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses in Winter

Sunglasses act as a protective shield for your eyes against the intensified UV glares in the winter. By wearing sunglasses consistently, you not only avert immediate discomfort but also reduce the likelihood of chronic eye conditions. They also come in handy by reducing eye strain caused by squinting and keep your eyes moist, lessening the drying effects of cold winds.

Choosing the Right Sunglasses for Winter

When selecting winter sunglasses, it’s essential to consider more than just style. Opt for pairs that provide 100% UV protection and have polarized or anti-glare lenses to combat the snow’s reflective properties. Look for designs that fit comfortably and offer broad coverage, preventing snow and winds from reaching your eyes.

It may raise an eyebrow or two, but donning sunglasses during Midwest winters is more than just a fashion choice, it’s a health essential. With winter glare and heightened UV exposure, your trusty shades become your eyes’ best friend, safeguarding them from harm. The takeaway? Sunglasses aren’t just for the sunny season. Next time you step into the frost-kissed beauty of the Midwest, remember to grab your sunglasses. 

If you don’t have a pair that are up to the job, stop by the Optical Department at any of the three Illinois Eye Center locations. We can help you with find the perfect sunglasses for you, whether you have the need for a prescription or not. Just walk in or click here to make an appointment!

Illinois Eye Center is open today, 01/23/2024, at all locations.

Check back here for updates before leaving home, as weather conditions may warrant future changes or closure.

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Holiday Hours

Saturday, 9/2

Peoria office open by appointment only

(Pekin & Washington are always closed on Saturdays)

Monday, 9/4

All offices closed

Tuesday, 9/5

Peoria & Pekin offices resume normal hours

Note: The Washington office will remain closed for renovations until Monday, Sept 18. 2023