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Give Your Eyes a Break from the Sun

When it comes to your eyes, summer sunshine can be too much of a good thing, especially if you have diabetes. Read on to learn how you can protect your vision all season long.

Over time, exposure to the sun’s rays can cause cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer, as well as other growths on the eye. People with diabetes face an extra risk for eye problems.

Who’s At Risk

Anyone who spends time outdoors is at risk for eye damage caused by the sun’s UV radiation. Factors that can increase the risk include:

  • Spending long hours playing or working in the sun
  • Taking certain medications, such as birth control pills, diuretics, tetracycline, tranquilizers, or sulfa drugs
  • Having already had cataract surgery or retinal disorders

Wear Some Shades

Sunglasses are an important step in protecting your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends choosing sunglasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and are labeled UV400 or 100% UV protection. Wrap-around styles also protect against the sun’s rays entering from the sides.

In addition to buying shades that provide this level of UV protection, the American Optometric Association recommends looking for brands that are:

  • Able to screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light
  • Gray with a uniform tint
  • Free of imperfections and distortion
  • Dark enough (if you can easily see your eyes when looking in a mirror, shop for a darker pair)

If you already have cataracts, you may need to wear sunglasses even more and wear a pair with glare control. Fortunately, taking good care of your eyes doesn’t have to be expensive. In most cases, very costly sunglasses offer no more sight-preserving protection than those that cost a good deal less.

Other Strategies

You can further protect your eyes by:

  • Wearing a brimmed hat along with your shades
  • Sporting your shades in all seasons
  • Never looking directly at the sun
  • Insisting on adequate eye protection if you use an indoor tanning facility

Stop in your local Rite Aid and pick up a pair of sunglasses with the UV protection your eyes need.



“Choosing UV Protection.” Prevent Blindness America,

“Eye Complications.” American Diabetes Association,

“Keep an Eye on Ultraviolet (UV) Safety.” American Academy of Ophthalmology,

“Summer UV Eye Safety.” American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Shopping Guide for Sunglasses.” American Optometric Association,

“Who’s at Risk for Eye Damage from the Sun.” Prevent Blindness America,