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The Winter Sun and Your Eyes

It's official! Winter is here, which means in some areas biting winds and freezing precipitation aren't far behind. You wouldn't ever contemplate of leaving the house without a heavy sweater or coat in freezing weather; nevertheless surprisingly, far too many people don't think to take their sunglasses. Although many of us aren't thinking about the shining sunshine when we are battling the bitter cold, the sun is still in full force during the winter months, and in many instances can be even more powerful.

They don't call it a "winter wonderland" for nothing. In particular after a snow storm, the blanket of snow covering the ground, trees and everything else in sight, actually magnifies the reflection of the sun. In fact, without sunglasses it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors after a heavy snow. The ultraviolet sunlight that we are all so careful in avoiding during the summer may actually be more hazardous during the colder season because it bounces off the snow or ice, resulting in a double dose of exposure. This is why a proper pair of sunglasses is a crucial winter accessory.

Even though you want to pick a style you look good in, the most important consideration when deciding upon a pair of sunglasses is being certain they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays by looking for an indication that they are labeled UV 400 (this means they block all light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.) Don't worry, you don't necessarily have to pay more for complete protection for your eyes. Dozens of inexpensive brands are made with total ultraviolet defense.

Another important feature in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses totally guard your eyes and if possible the surrounding areas. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to penetrate. Wrap around frames will also keep UV waves from sneaking in from the sides.

For those who enjoy snow or ice sports, it’s important to be aware that the sun's rays are more powerful at peak heights, so be particularly cautious to guard yourself on the hills. For added protection put on a protective hat with a wide brim or visor.

It's important to be knowledgeable about the risks of UV damage to your eyes throughout the year. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.