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Sunglasses have long been considered the perfect warm-weather accessory. After all, a great pair of shades is just what your eyes need to protect them from the bright summer sun. But what most people don’t realize is that sunglasses can be just as important, if not more, during the cold months of winter.

Here are some reasons why a pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses should be amongst your must-have winter accessories this year.

1. Harmful UV rays are still dangerous in winter

We often forget to consider that just like our skin, our eyes also need protection from the sun. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), sun damage is still possible on days that are windy, cloudy, or cool. A common assumption is that the sun is not as dangerous in winter as it is during summer. However, even if the sun is not shining, its harmful UV rays are ever-present.

Exposing your eyes directly to UV rays can lead to a painful condition known as photokeratitis,” explains optometrist and CEO of Dynamic Vision, Ruahan Naude. “The condition is essentially a sunburn of the cornea, causing burning, irritation, and, in extreme cases, temporary loss of vision. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the sun can also increase your chances of developing skin cancer around the eyes and cataracts. The use of polarized sunglasses also helps reduce harmful blue light exposure (HEV) to the eye, which can increase the risk of macular degeneration.”

This means that eye health and protection should be considered year-round and not limited to summertime living.

2. The sun sits lower in the sky during winter

A much less obvious reason wintertime is prime for sunglasses is the change in the angle of the sun. During winter, the sun sits lower in the sky, leading to more direct exposure to UV rays than in the summer months. This can be especially problematic when afternoon drive times coincide with the setting of the winter sun, where UV rays and reflected glare can make for dangerous driving conditions. Luckily, this can all be avoided by wearing a proper pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses that protect your eyes, improve clarity and contrast and reduce harmful glare.

It’s all about the quality of the polarized filter and the technology used in its application,” says Martine Larroque, Managing Director Middle East and Africa of Maui Jim® Sunglasses. “Some sunglass brands claim to offer polarization, but in reality, they only block about 10% of reflected glare, which offers you very little protection. It is better to choose a premium pair of sunglasses that offer high-quality protection.

3. Sunglasses offer protection from cold winds and dust particles

Another good reason to carry on wearing your shades during the not-so-sunny months of the year is to create a barrier against icy cold winds and dust particles which could potentially cause harm to your eyes. What’s more, wind can cause the moisture in your eyes to dry up, making your eyes feel scratchy and uncomfortable. Your shades can help your eyes preserve moisture, which prevents them from becoming dry and irritated.

When it comes to your vision, prevention is the cure,’’ concludes Naude.

Just because the temperature drops, it doesn’t mean eye health and protection should become any less of a concern. If anything, a great pair of quality polarized sunglasses should be an essential part of your winter wardrobe and according to CANSA, an important part of your overall sun protection plan. So keep your shades handy for those cooler, more overcast days.

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About the article

We received this article courtesy of Maui Jim, an eyewear company recognized for their patented PolarizedPlus® lens technology which blocks 100% of harmful UV rays and eliminates 99% of harsh glare. Find out more about them by clicking on the following link.

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Guest Writer

This post has been curated by a Longevity Live editor for the website.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.