Putting sunglasses protection to the test - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Are your sunglasses strong enough?

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Most sunglasses block out the sun's rays that you can see, but it's the ultra-violet rays that you can't see that are doing the damage. We found out that a tinted lens does not guarantee UV protection.

Your eyes take a beating from the sun every day. Over time, an unprotected eye can suffer the effects of UV radiation.

"Cataracts, macular degeneration, cancers around the eyes, around the skin and lids, it can also cause premature aging of the white part of your eyes," said Jeff Michaels of Family Vision Care of Richmond. "Those effects are irreversible."

Dr. Michaels says most sunglasses provide enough protection, but don't assume.

"We have had patients who have come in who thought they were being protected by their glasses, and when we put them up to the meter, indeed they are not," Michaels said.

We collected a sample of sunglasses from co-workers and brought them to Dr. Michaels for testing using a UV meter.

"By placing the lens here on the machine, it will tell us the transmission of the ultraviolet light coming through the lens and in this case, the transmission is 0 percent, which means they're 100 percent protected against the ultraviolet radiation," said the doctor.

Medical experts recommend that all sunglasses block 99 percent to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. You should check for labeling that indicates that protection. Not all sunglasses are made to block UV radiation.

"I think that most people think if glasses have a tint to it, then it protects. However, just having a tint on your glasses is not the protective effect. Having a coating over the glasses is what protects against the UV a and UV B radiation," added Dr. Michaels.

All of the frames we brought in received a passing grade, even a pair with no tint at all. The poly carbonate material of these lenses has UV protection built in.

Dr. Michaels says some sunglasses come mis-labeled, or with no label at all. If you have any doubt about UV protection, take the pair to an optometrist.

"The test is only a matter of seconds and it doesn't cost anything. It's a service that's provided by doctors of optometry," Dr. Michaels notes.

The first sign of damage from the sun's rays is any discoloration of the white part of the eye. If you've noticed this symptom, see your eye doctor right away. 

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