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The Winter Sun and Your Eyes

It's official! Winter is here, which means in some areas whipping winds and frigid precipitation aren't far behind. Most of us wouldn't ever conceive of leaving the house without a coat in overcast climates, however surprisingly, far too many people don't think to wear sunglasses. While many of us don't think about the shining sun when we are venturing out to the freezing cold, the sun's rays are still shining down in colder climates, and sometimes can be even more powerful.

On occasions that you frequent a location with snow, it is wise to be extra cautious. Especially following a snow storm, the world around takes on a glistening glow thanks to the sunlight reflecting off of the water molecules blanketing the ground and the trees. In fact, without sunglasses it can hurt to open your eyes when you first step outdoors following a fresh snow. The ultraviolet exposure that we are all so vigilant to avoid during the summertime may really be more hazardous during the wintertime since it bounces off the snow or ice, giving you double exposure. This is why sunglasses are an essential winter accessory.

Although it's important to look great in your shades, the most important part of selecting sunglasses is checking that they will properly protect your eyes. Check that your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV light by looking for confirmation that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is proper protection for your eyes doesn't have to cost a lot. Many of the more inexpensive options exist that still provide total UV protection.

Another important consideration in selecting sun wear is lens size. You will have the most protection when your glasses are large enough to completely guard your eyes and the areas around them. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to enter. Wrap around frames will also stop UV waves from entering through the periphery.

Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are critical water gear because the water intensifies UV rays, this also applies to frozen water sources including ice and snow. Consequently it is just as important to put on sunglasses during times when you go out skiing, ice skating or even taking a walk on a snowy day. Additionally UV radiation is more forceful at high elevations, so if you plan to go skiing or snowboarding, take this into consideration.

This wintertime, keep warm and stay protected! Don't forget to wear your shades.