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The Winter Sun and Your Eyes

Winter is officially here, which means in some locations whipping winds and frigid rains and sometimes snow are also in the forecast. You wouldn't ever conceive of leaving the house without a heavy sweater or coat in cooler weather, but surprisingly, many people don't think to take their sunglasses. While the sun isn't always our primary consideration during times that we are venturing out to the frigid cold, the sun is still shining down in colder climates, and in certain circumstances can be even stronger.

They didn't write a song called "winter wonderland" for nothing. Particularly in the aftermath of a snow storm, the blanket of snow covering the ground, trees and everything else in sight, actually intensifies the reflection of the sunlight. In fact, in many cases it can downright hurt your eyes when you first leave the house after a glistening snow. The ultraviolet radiation that we are all so vigilant about during the summertime may really be more dangerous in the winter because it reflects off the snow or ice, resulting in double exposure. This is why a sturdy pair of sunglasses is a crucial winter accessory.

Even though you want to pick a style you look good in, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is checking that they provide adequate protection against UV. Ensure they are 100% UV blocking by looking for confirmation 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, proper protection for your eyes isn't necessarily expensive. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide full ultraviolet coverage.

Another important factor in picking the right sun wear is frame size. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to enter. Wrap around frames will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

For the skiers or snowboarders out there, you should know that UV rays are more powerful at peak heights, so you need to be even more sure to protect your eyes on the hills. For added protection wear a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about the risks of the sun's radiation to your eyes throughout the year. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.