When you think about summer sun protection for your Michigan senior, don’t forget the sunglasses.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause serious damage to the eyes of people of all ages. But the threat is even more serious for older adults. Years of unprotected sun exposure injures the eye and can cause cataracts, cancer and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65.
Seniors who venture to Great Lakes State beaches or the pool face a greater risk of vison loss. Water and sand reflect the sun’s rays, doubling the exposure to ultraviolet light.
Sunglasses are the best defense against harmful solar radiation. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says wearing sunglasses year round, even on cloudy and hazy days, can help protect an older adult’s vision.
Advice for helping your senior loved one select the right sunglasses to shield their eyes and safeguard their sight:
Be a Savvy Eyewear Shopper
- Effective sunscreens block UV-A and UV-B light rays. Protective eyewear should be no different. Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays or that offer “400UV protection.” Don’t purchase a pair if they aren’t labeled.
- Buy from a reputable store or eye care center. Flea markets, street vendors and online auctions might offer incredible deals, but you cannot be sure that the UV protection ratings are accurate.
- If your senior wears eyeglasses, suggest that they invest in photochromic lenses, which block UV rays and automatically darken when exposed to sunlight. These can be helpful for older adults with Alzheimer’s or in dementia care, who may need to be reminded to use sunglasses.
- A set of prescription sunglasses is another option. Prescription lenses block 100% of the harmful ultraviolet light. Many eye care providers offer specials on multiple pairs.
Choose the Right Features for Your Senior’s Sunglasses
- Polarized lenses don’t block harmful UV light, but they do help to eliminate glare and reflection. This feature is a must for older adults who drive.
- Lens color doesn’t play a role in UV protection, but it can affect an older adult’s comfort level. Aging loved ones who have had cataract surgery may prefer amber lenses or “blue blockers.” These absorb HEV-rays that are more irritating to sensitive eyes.
- Dark lenses are no more protective than light tints, but they do reduce brightness and reduce squinting.
Select a Style: Bigger Is Better
- The US Food and Drug Administration recommends wraparound frames that fully shield the front, side and top of the eye from damaging UV rays. Wraparounds are available in a number of styles, including a goggle design that cups over and encloses the eyes.
- Over-lenses are another maximum coverage option. These larger frames slip over prescription frames.
- Flip-up and clip-on sunglasses attach to the top of prescription frames with a clip or magnet. Some clip-ons offer minimal side-coverage.
We hope these tips help you choose the right sunglasses for your senior loved one. Don’t forget to grab a pair for yourself! Protecting your younger eyes from intense sunlight helps to prevent age-related eye disease.