Friday, June 26, 2015

The eyes have it

I don't know about you, but while I worry about sun damage to my skin--mostly the aging effects, because I'm vain like that--I don't really think much about sun damage to my eyes. I do wear sunglasses most of the time, but that's because the sun hurts my eyes and makes me squint. One time that I don't wear sunglasses is when I run. I just don't want to be bothered with them bouncing up and down on my nose or sliding down my face. Plus I normally run early in the day, and the sun isn't really strong when I go, so it doesn't really bother me.


Hold up! Did you know that while UV rays are strongest between 10-2pm, putting us at risk for sunburn, the time of day when sun damage can occur in the eyes is between 8-10am and 2-4pm. In fact, research shows that the eyes receive nearly double the amount of UV radiation during these times. This is because the sun is lower on the horizon, and is at eye level.

Oh. So I thought I knew all there was to know about sun exposure and eye protection. Recently, I was asked to participate in a webinar, along with other fitness bloggers, sponsored by the Vision Council. The title of the webinar was Healthy Bodies, Healthy Eyes: Protecting Vision from UV Radiation. Dr Justin Bazan, OD, talked to participants about eye protection while staying active. Dr Bazan presented some facts, which made me realize I am in pretty good company about not wearing sunglasses when I run. In fact, only 21% of Americans always wear sunglasses during fitness activities, like running and biking. Turns out I'm in the 79% who wear them "sometimes".

I wear wrap around glasses when I bike. These are my glasses from Smith optics. I have the rose colored lenses in for the overcast day.
That would be me. I wear sunglasses when I bike, not only for protection from the sun, but also to protect my eyes from flying objects, like bugs and dust. I have a pair of glasses for cycling from Smith Optics (affiliate link) with interchangeable lenses: a clear pair for cloudy days, a rose colored pair for overcast days, and a brown pair for sunny days.

These are the wrap around Optic Nerve glasses I received from the Vision Council. I'm wearing them with the reflective lenses.
Like I said, I don't wear sunglasses when I run. As part of participation in the webinar, The Vision Council sent me a pair of the Vapor model from Optic Nerve  (affiliate link) with 3 different interchangeable lenses like my Smith Optics glasses. These are really light, lighter than my Smiths, and I actually think I could tolerate them on the run. I wore them for a bike ride, using the reflective lenses on a partly cloudy day. I really liked them a lot. There was no distortion, which I sometimes get with the polarized lenses I have in my Smiths.

Each pair of my sport sunglasses includes a clear lens. Common sense would tell you that the clear lenses don't offer any UV protection, and that the darker pair have the most UV protection, but that isn't the case. All three lenses offer the same amount of UV protection, regardless of the tint. Who knew? Dr Bazan told us that dark lenses don't offer any more UV protection than the clear lenses, and they may even make you lose contrast in low light conditions. Nothing like tripping over a crack in the sidewalk or something, right?

I wear mirrored lenses on the water, to decrease reflection. Plus I love this aviator frame.
So how do you choose the right pair of sunglasses? Do you buy the most expensive pair? The most fashionable? The most important thing to look for is glasses made for your activity, for example, wrap around lenses for bicycling; a pair that are comfortable, and provide ample UVA and UVB protection. There are a variety of lens choices. He recommended photochromatic lenses for triathletes, stating that they adjust to varying conditions. Polarized lenses help filter out glare, but you have to make sure they have UV protection as well. Mirrored lenses, like the kind police like to wear, help decrease reflection, and anti-reflective lenses can help reduce glare as well.

Why should athletes wear sunglasses? Dr Bazan encouraged us to think of sunglasses as "sunblock for the eyes". You can literally sunburn your eyeballs. The medical term is "photokeratitis", and it can be quite painful. Long term damage from UV exposure includes premature aging of the skin around the eyes, cataracts, macular degeneration, and even cancer. You can also develop a pterygium in your eye (and it's a gnarly as it sounds), which is a growth on the surface of your eye. Ewww. There is no treatment for this.



Makes me want to wear sunglasses at night!

June 27 is National Sunglasses Day! The Vision Council wants to encourage everyone to increase awareness of eye issues related to UV damage. They are hoping everyone will post a selfie on social media with the hastag #sunglassselfie .


I was asked by the Vision Council to participate in this webinar in exchange for a blog post. I did receive a swag bag with sunglasses, as well as a cooling towel and other accessories, as a gift from the Vision Council.

My swag bag included all these goodies!
Do you wear sunglasses when you workout? Do you have different types of sunglasses for your activities? 

52 comments :

  1. I wear glasses 95 % of the time that I run outside. I can't stand squinting, for one, and here it can get so glarey. I'm thinking about investing in a pair of clearer ones for days when I'm running and just want to keep bugs out of my eyes. And I have sunglasses stashed around my life so that I'm always ready!

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    1. I need to get better about wearing them on the run. I wear them for everything else.

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  2. I wear sunglasses most of the time when I run....I am a wrinkle-phobic and I have sensitive eyes that water easily. These glasses look nice...I'm jealous! The swag looks neat, too. I need a pair of clear ones for evening running (bug shield) LOL

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    1. The only time I don't wear them is on the run. Bad, I know...

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  3. As you can tell from my photos, I almost always wear sunglasses when I run. My vision is poor enough already - I want to keep it good for as long as I can! I'm always so surprised by how few runners wear sunglasses. I've bought them at race expos.

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    1. The ones that I received for this post are light enough that I think I could tolerate them on the run. I'll have to try and see!

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  4. I always wear sunglasses for outdoor workouts. The pair I wear most I got at a bike shop and the lenses auto-adjust to the brightness.

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  5. I wear sunglasses almost all of the time, even if its only a tad bit sunny/borderline cloudy.

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    1. I wear them all the time except when I run. Oops!

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  6. I never wear sun glasses when I run or waterski (with the spray -- no way). While running, I want to be able to clearly see where I'm stepping. It's hard to see in dappled sunlight. I never could figure out how to keep them from fogging up and they ended up on top of my head anyway. I like your aviators. I just received a free pair and love them. FYI. I'm going to send you an email about something. :)

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    1. And what if you wipe out, while waterskiing? Say bye bye to the sunglasses!

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  7. I always wear sunglasses when I run even if it's cloudy. I wear light ones when I play tennis or run. Otherwise I wear the ones that look good.

    I wear contacts and the light and wind dry out my eyes.

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    1. The only issue I have with my contacts is sometimes they get dust caught under them. Ouch!

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  8. As a fair-skinned, freckled, blue-eyed gal, I have been encouraged to wear sunglasses as much as possible and my contact lenses have UV protection built in, as well. I have some polarized Ray Bans that I kick around in when I'm not running or doing anything where they might get lost/damaged - ha! - and then a Smith Optics pair that I run/play in. I've been known to run/race in sunglasses even when it's not that bright outside because, like Darlene mentioned above, the air dries out my contact lenses.

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    1. During the webinar, I asked if contacts protect the eye. Even with UV protection, they only protect the cornea, not the rest of the eye. So you could get that pterygium (pictured above). But I don't wear glasses when I run. Even tho I should.

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  9. I have never found a pair that are really comfortable. My hunt for the perfect glasses continue.

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    1. I liked the Optic Nerve pair that the Vision Council sent me, a lot! I haven't run in them yet.

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  10. I had never really stopped to think about the function of sunglasses (I certainly pick them for fashion over purpose). Thanks for the great read and education!

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    1. It was a really interesting webinar! I learned a few new things.

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  11. I always wear sunglasses when running outside, even when it's cloudy. I have red hair and freckles, so I have to take all the precautions I can when it comes to the sun! Those glasses with interchangeable lenses are cool!

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    1. The interchangeable lenses are a must for cycling!

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  12. I am actually trying to do this more mainly for allergy reasons.
    But the damage the sun does, I never thought of my poor eyes.

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    1. I wear sunglasses most of the time because well, the sun. But not when I'm running! I need to get better about that.

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  13. I learned a lot from the webinar. Really interesting!

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  14. I never wear sunglasses. Boo. But I LOVE the aviator ones you have in the picture above.

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  15. I need to make sure I wear them consistently. I usually wear a visor which is why I sometimes don't, but I should! Love the Optic Nerve pair! :)

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  16. I don't even walk to my mailbox without my sunglasses (I wear Oakleys with both UVA an UVB protection). And then in Saturday's race it was pouring rain when I started so I left my sunglasses behind. Within no time the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I was miserable. Thankfully I had on my visor and that offered a little protection, but not nearly enough.

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    1. Those aviators I'm wearing are Oakleys! I'm a huge fan. The only time I don't wear sunglasses is when I run. For some reason, the sun doesn't bother me then.

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  17. I do wear sunglass when I workout. I have very sensitive eyes and don't want to damage them! Love your aviators! So cute!

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  18. Yes, UV protection is so important! My contacts have UV protection built in, and then I always make sure to wear sunglasses on my runs to protect my eyes, too. Not only are sunglasses great for UV protection, but they also help protect your eyes from stuff flying into them!

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    1. That's mostly why I wear them on the bike...to protect my eyes from flying debris!

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  19. great post! You make me want to run out and buy a new pair of sunglasses and I just might! I need a pair of those aviators for sure!!! I don' wear my glasses o run either but 98% of the time I am in and way before 8am- but good to know now that is my deadline. Thanks for sharing all this great info and Happy Saturday!

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    1. I think this is the perfect excuse to get some new shades. Gotta protect the eyes!

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  20. I run and ride with sunglasses, especially on the trail because I have had WAY too many bugs in my eyes experiences to count. :)

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    1. Me too! I was glad to find out that the clear lenses on my Smiths have UV protection just like the tinted lenses!

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  21. I do wear sunglasses every time I run unless it's a zero dark thirty run!

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  22. If the sun is up I run with sunglasses. Love the aviators.

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  23. I absolutely did not know all this stuff about sun damage to the eyes! Thankfully, I almost always wear my sunnies when I'm out and about. I just can't stand the squinting and headaches I get when I don't have them on. Plus, they hide the massive bags under my eyes from not sleeping enough :)

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    1. Well, there you go! Another good reason to wear shades!

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  24. Wow, thanks for sharing this info. I run with my regular eyeglasses - at they do have UV protection.

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    1. Before this webinar, I never knew that untinted lenses could have UV protection. I've been wearing glasses my whole life! Live and learn, I guess.

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  25. I have to wear prescription sunglasses because my distance vision is so bad, and I wear them if I bike, but wear a visor when I run. My eye lid was my first Basil Cell removal is it a very common area because you can't get sunscreen that close to the eye and of course I am old and no one knew better, so they let burn all the time.

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    1. That's so scary! You remind me that I need to get my skin checked. I'm not at all good about sunscreen. I"m much better about the sunglasses.

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  26. Love love love this post!! My dermatologists husband died from Melanoma in his eye so now I make sure to wear sunglasses! Love that you're educating the masses!

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    1. Oh no! I've never heard of that happening. How awful! I'm so glad that you found this post useful!

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