From Tracie: The Future's Bright - You Gotta Wear Shades

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Future's Bright - You Gotta Wear Shades

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. You should wear them, too.

Last week I participated in a virtual briefing with The Motherhood and members of The Vision Council. Which is to say, I geeked out during a conference call about UV Rays and eye health, and am now officially more obsessed with sunglasses than I was before the call.

Do you wear sunglasses when you spend time outside? Do your kids?

Katarina and Tracie wearing sunglasses the wrong way
These sunglasses on the top of my head are holding my hair back, 
but they aren't doing anything for my eyes.

Sunglasses with UV protection are one of the best ways to protect your eye health.

What is the big deal about UV rays?
  • UV exposure at any age can cause both short and long term vision problems. Many of which can't be reversed.
  • UVA and UVB rays are constantly penetrating the Earth’s surface, leaving unprotected eyes exposed to harmful radiation.
  • UV levels are at their highest during summer months, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • UV rays are higher on those sunny, summer days, but they are dangerous every day. Overcast skies still allow 31 percent of solar radiation to reach the Earth's surface.
  • Just like you wear sunscreen when it is sunny or cloudy to prevent a sunburn, you need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays with a pair of UV-protective sunglasses.

UV Rays and Children
  • In a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. adults, 73 percent of parents wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from ultraviolet radiation, while only 58 percent have their children wear sunglasses.
  • Children receive three times the annual sun exposure of adults.
  • The lens in a child's eye is not fully developed, and cannot filter out as many UV rays as an adult lens. This means more radiation reaches the retina of a child with unprotected eyes
Katarina wearing sunglasses

I want to tell you how the information I learned impacted me on a personal level. As Dr. Dora Adamopoulos gave us a list of short term to cumulative damage exposure to UV rays can cause (Did you know your eyes can get a sunburn, called Photokeratitis? I didn't!), one phrase jumped out at me - Macular Degeneration.

My grandpa was athletic. He golfed. He swam (and had a secret trick to make the biggest splashes in a splash war). And when I was a kid, he went out in the hot Phoenix sun several times a week to play tennis. Although he wore sunglasses while driving, his blue eyes were largely unprotected during most of these outdoor sports. By the time I was a teen, he learned that he had Macular Degeneration. His eyesight deteriorated quickly, and in the last week of his life, he was completely blind.

Things I didn't know until last week:
  • Blue eyes are more at risk for UV damage than brown eyes.
  • In recent studies, Phoenix was in the top 10 cities for high rates of damaging UV radiation.
  • Long term exposure to UV rays can contribute to Macular Degeneration. 
Putting together the pieces of this puzzle about Macular Degeneration and what may have contributed to my Grandpa's eye issues reinforced my drive to make sure I'm protecting my own eyes as well as Katarina's from UV damage.


There is a lot of talk about preventative health care, and how important it is to take steps to prevent health issues before they happen. Wearing sunglasses is a simple (and fairly inexpensive) step you can take to prevent damage to your and your children's eyes.

You might be freaking out about UV rays right about now (I know I was when I learned this stuff), so I'm going to give you a few tips on sunglasses:
  • Sunglasses don't have to be expensive to be good. 
  • Buy your sunglasses from a reputable retailer (like a drug store, mass retailer, or an eye care professional's office), and not from street vendors or online auction sites.
  • Check any sunglasses you intend to buy for a label, sticker, or tag from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The label "UV 380" covers all UVA and UVB rays, and indicates a UV-protective pair of glasses.
  • When buying a pair of sunglasses for your child, try them on yourself. Make sure you can see clearly and there is no lens distortion.
  • Wear your sunglasses each time you go outside! They won't do you any good sitting in the bottom of your purse - you have to put them on to get the benefits of protection.

For more information about eye health, and how sunglasses with UV protection play an important part, visit The Bureau of Missing Sunglasses. They have a widget where you can enter your zip code and see what the UV index is for your local area. You can also connect with The Vision Council on facebook.

Keep your future bright and your eyes healthy - wear sunglasses.

Do you wear sunglasses when you leave the house?

*Legal Stuff: This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and The Vision Council. I was compensated for my time, but any opinions expressed are my own. I honestly enjoyed learning more about eye health. 


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I wear sun glasses all the time. Even on cloudy days and in winter. The protection (both from UV rays and harsh glare that just hurts) is important for my health and my safety (and that of others when I'm driving).

    1. That is great! I definitely wear them when driving, too. I don't understand how anyone could drive without them - the sun in my eyes makes it impossible for me to see anything.

  2. >>> Long term exposure to UV rays can contribute to Macular Degeneration. <<<

    Wow. This was eye opening. Macular Degeneration runs in my family and when I asked my eye doctor what I could do to slow/prevent it she told me about taking Lutein but never mentioned sunglasses.

    I never wear sunglasses. I don't even own sunglasses. Guess I know what's on my shopping list.

    1. This comment made all the time I put into this post more than worth it. I hope sunglasses do make a preventative difference for you!

  3. You have go to protect your eyes. I don't go outside without mine on. Even if it's super cloudy. I still wear them. I've got really fair skin, but my eyes are even more delicate (all of ours are)! Tracie, you rock! Spread the word!

  4. This is really important information to have. We all slather our kids up with sunscreen, but most of us leave their eyes unprotected.
    I have to keep encouraging Bubs to wear his. Bonus, he is super cute in those sunnies:)

    1. Yep! The sunscreen and the sunglasses really go hand in hand.

      Now I want to see cute sunglass pics of your boy. =)

  5. I wear shades in the rain, and on cloudy days, and on bright days. i wear them year round. i love my shades!

  6. Thanks for the important reminder. I always wear sunglasses but my kids---not so much.