Maybe you’re a hiker, taking advantage of longer daylight hours to climb the trails you know so well. Or you’re a golfer exploring new courses, a swimmer enjoying the backyard pool or a gardener putting in this year’s perennials. You could even be a person whose love for the outdoors is best expressed by sipping cocktails on the deck!
No matter what sort of outdoor personality you are, this is the time of year to pay extra attention to your eyes. Exposure to the UV rays in sunlight – both UV-A and UV-B – can affect your vision and cause or exacerbate conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygia, photokeratitis and skin cancer in or around the eyelids.
How to Find Eyewear for Your Next Adventure
Here are 11 eyewear tips that will help you protect your vision – and enjoy the outdoors – during the prime spring and summer months:
1. Wear sun visors or hats at outdoor events
Create a little shade for your eyes with a sunhat or visor. Your eyes will appreciate the protection from the sun regardless of whether you’re playing or watching.
2. Pay attention to the labels on the sunglasses you buy
You want sunglasses that block 100 percent of all UV rays. This may seem obvious, but a 2014 survey by the American Academy of Opthalmalogy found that more than half the people buying sunglasses don’t even check the UV label.
3. Understand the differences between sunglass lens materials
It’s important to know your options when selecting eyewear, especially if you have an active lifestyle.
- Glass lenses offer scratch-resistance and higher clarity, but they’re heavier and can crack.
- Polyurethane lenses may cost more, but have excellent optics and are impact-resistant.
- Polycarbonate lenses have slightly less clarity but excellent impact-resistance; they are lightweight, like polyurethane, but less scratch-resistant.
- Acrylic lenses are the least expensive, but offer less clarity and are less durable.
4. Know the differences between lens coatings
There are many differences, especially with more expensive pairs.
- Mirrored lenses reflect glare, but not UV rays.
- Anti-scratch coatings protect the surface of the lens;
- Hydrophobic coatings repel water
- Anti-fog coatings help keep your lenses clear when you’re sweating or when it’s humid outside.
5. Translate the language of tint color
Choosing the color of the tint on your sunglasses is more than just a fashion choice; colors make a difference in visibility based on the conditions of the light.
- Yellow or orange lenses help indoors or for hazy days outdoors.
- Amber, rose or red lenses are good in both partly cloudy and sunny conditions, but they change the colors of what you see.
- Dark amber, copper or brown lenses heighten contrast and block blue light; they help with bright blue skies and green grass.
- Green lenses keep colors true and slightly improve contrast.
- Gray lenses reduce brightness overall, making them ideal for outdoor sports.
6. Buy sunglasses that fit well
If your sunglasses are always falling down your nose or the lenses are too small to provide much coverage, they won’t protect your eyes as well as those that fit well and have larger lenses. If you participate in very active sports, consider wraparound frames.
7. Protect your eyes in the water
In addition to reflecting the sun’s glare (and making UV rays more intense), swimming pool water has chemicals in it, and lake water can be dirty. If you’re just playing water volleyball or floating on an air raft, sunglasses will do. If you’re swimming and diving, consider swim goggles.
8. Wear protective eyewear
Protect your eyes while mowing, weed-whacking or playing active sports. You need protection for any activity in which things could come flying at your eyes – tennis, racquetball, baseball, or outdoor chores.
9. Consider adaptive lenses
If you wear prescription eyeglasses, adaptive – or “photochromic” – lenses help protect your eyes whenever you go outside by darkening in bright sunlight. They both reduce glare and offer 100 percent UV protection.
10. Switch to contact lenses
Contacts can be much more convenient for people who play sports or have busy outdoor lifestyles. Contacts offer greater clarity (and better peripheral vision), don’t fall off your nose, aren’t affected by movement or sweat, and make it easy to wear regular sunglasses. But there are downsides – you must learn to insert them and take them out, a speck of dust between your eye and the lens can irritate your eye, and if you need to take one out, re-wetting it and re-inserting outside can be hard if you’re not near a restroom.
11. Pay attention if your eyes are dry or tearing up
No matter what your eyewear, dry or watery eyes are a sign your vision needs attention. Tearing up might mean you have a speck of dust in your eye; dry eyes may need some natural tear eyedrops (if it’s simply caused by the situation you’re in) or a visit to the eye doctor (if it seems to be a more constant symptom).