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Guarding Your Eyes Against The Winter Sun

Winter is officially here, which means in some places whipping winds and freezing rains and sometimes snow are also in the forecast. Most of us wouldn't ever think of leaving the house without a heavy sweater or coat in icy weather, but surprisingly, many people leave their sunglasses behind. While the sun may not be our first consideration when we are venturing out to the frigid winter climate, the sun's rays are still shining down during the winter months, and in certain circumstances can be even more powerful.

They don't call it a "winter wonderland" for no reason. Particularly after a blizzard, the world around takes on a sparkling glimmer as a result of the sunlight reflecting off of the water molecules blanketing the earth. In fact, it can be painful to open your eyes when you first step outside after a glistening snow. The UV exposure that we are all so vigilant to avoid in the heat of the summer can actually be more hazardous in the winter months because it reflects off the snow or ice, resulting in a second exposure. This is why proper sunglasses are a crucial part of your winter wardrobe.

Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is being certain they provide adequate protection against UV. Ensure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays by checking 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.) The good news is proper sun protection isn't necessarily expensive. Dozens of inexpensive options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

A further important consideration in choosing sun wear is the size of the lenses. You will have the most protection when your glasses are large enough to completely shield your eyes and if possible the surrounding areas. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to enter. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also stop radiation from sneaking in from the periphery.

Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are essential to wear on the water because the water reflects ultraviolet rays, this also applies to frozen water sources including ice and snow. Therefore it is just as essential to wear sunglasses when out in wintery conditions. Further UV radiation is more powerful at greater elevations such as mountain ski slopes.

This winter, keep warm and stay protected! Don't leave home without your sunglasses.

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