By Lina Younes
As the summer season fast approaches, we’re seeing more colorful summer fashion items for sale in stores. However, there is one popular item that is valuable not only as a fashion statement, but for its health benefits as well. What item might that be? Sunglasses.
We know that exposure to powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays causes skin cancer. Yet, exposure to natural sunlight or artificial UV rays can also damage your eyes. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can lead to numerous eye disorders including cataracts, skin cancer around the eyelids and other health issues issues. Cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It is a condition that tends to appear in people as they grow older, especially after 40. Currently, over 22 million people in the US have cataracts. An EPA report indicates that cataract incidence is on the rise.
Even though we think of common eye conditions linked to the aging process, we should take steps to ensure a healthy vision as early as possible. Everyone is susceptible to eye damage from UV radiation regardless of age or ethnic origin. So an easy way to start protecting your eyes is by getting sunglasses. Read the labels to ensure that the sunglasses block 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Also choose sunglasses for your children, too. For further protection, you can also use a wide-brimmed hat with your sunglasses.
So, whether you’re headed to the beach, engaging in sports, gardening, or simply enjoying the great outdoors, remember to use sunglasses to protect your eyes. Just because the day is overcast, don’t assume that you don’t need to protect yourself from the sun. Those powerful UV rays can easily shine through the clouds damaging your eyes and skin. So protect yourself and be SunWise all year round. Good sun protection habits should be observed every day and all seasons of the year.
About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.