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July 26, 2010

Sunglasses: More than Just a Fashion Statement

OSWEGO - We all know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun's harmful rays, but what about protection for our eyes?

July is UV Safety Month and the Oswego County Health Department is urging county residents to protect their eyes by wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

"Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun's invisible, high-energy ultraviolet rays without protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to vision loss," said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Public Health Director for the County Health Department. "During the summer months, the level of ultraviolet radiation is three times higher than in the winter. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are the best defense system for your eyes against sunlight and harmful UV rays. To be effective, both must be worn every time you're outside for long periods of time, even when it's overcast."

What type of sunglasses should you buy?

"The most important thing is to purchase sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays," said Dr. Norfleet. "Don't be misled by the color of the lens or the price tag dangling from the frame."

The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the cost. Many $10 sunglasses provide equal or greater protection than a $100 pair. With expensive sunglasses, you're paying for style, frame quality and options such as scratch-resistant coatings, not necessarily protective UV ray blocking ability.

Make sure you don't forget the kids. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses as well. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest.

For more information on the importance of protecting your eyes from the sun, go to www.aao.org or call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.

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