When to Wear Sunglasses

When to Wear Sunglasses© Ron Chapple Studios/Thinkstock

Get the most from your sunglasses by sidestepping these pitfalls.

Skipping sunglasses in the winter. Snow reflects 80 percent of sunlight — three times more than water and five times more than beach sand.

Relying only on contact lenses. Most contacts block less sunlight than UVB-protective sunglasses — but they do protect the sides of the eyes better than many sunglasses (except wraparound types). The best plan: contacts plus shades for more complete protection.

Not wearing a hat. A wide-brimmed hat cuts eye exposure to UVB rays by a whopping 50 percent. A hat plus sunglasses reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration by 50 percent in one 10-year-long study of 2,764 people. And in a study of 900 Chesapeake Bay shellfish harvesters, those who wore sunglasses plus brimmed hats cut cataract risk by two-thirds.

Wearing sunglasses only at midday. Japanese researchers say the sun’s low angle in the morning and late afternoon is the reason study volunteers’ eyes received twice as much damaging UVB radiation at 9 am and 2 pm as they did at noon.

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