More Is Better When It Comes to Protecting Your Eyes

One of the things I love most about Arizona is the weather—well, maybe not in July or August, but most of the year. When I am not seeing patients, I spend a lot of time outdoors. Wherever you live, if you spend time outdoors during the day, you are being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. I am passionate about protecting my eyes from the sun and making sure that my patients do the same.

When it comes to UV rays, the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" really applies. Let's be clear—you can't reverse damage in your eyes caused by UV exposure, but you can take preventive measures for yourself and your children now that may pay big dividends in years to come.

So what should you do each day to shield your eyes from the sun? I tell my patients about the "triad of protection," which starts with a wide-brimmed hat—either a baseball cap or a sun hat—to block the sun from above, particularly when it's highest in the sky (midday).

Secondly, high-quality sunglasses are essential. All sunglasses are not created equal. Choose sunglasses that limit transmission to no more than 1 percent UVB and 1 percent UVA rays. Sometimes the information on the glasses will say they block at least 99 percent of the UV rays. That's OK.

Also, while most sunglasses can help block UV rays from entering through the lenses, most frame styles do not prevent rays from reaching the eyes by getting around the sides, tops and bottoms of the glasses. You want them to cover from about the eyebrow to the upper cheek on a vertical level and be larger across the face with a thicker temple (the side of the sunglasses) or a wrap/curve to the frame.

Contact lens wearers, this tip is for you. Ask your eye care professional about lenses with UV blocking for an added layer of protection. Many contact lenses don't offer UV protection and, in fact, most do not. Acuvue Oasys Brand Contact Lenses, or for those who prefer a daily disposable contact lens, 1-Day Acuvue TruEye Contact Lenses, offer the highest level of UV-blocking available in a contact lens.

Although UV-blocking contact lenses are beneficial in helping to protect against harmful UV rays, clinical studies have not been done to show that they directly reduce the risk of any specific eye disease or condition. That is why they should not be viewed as a stand-alone solution. Remember the "triad of protection"—wear them with a wide-brimmed hat and high-quality sunglasses.

So, now you know how to protect your eyes from UV light, but do you know that UV protection is not just a "summer thing"? Keep your eyes peeled for my next post and learn why you need to protect your eyes year-round, even on a cloudy day or in the winter.


Dr. Stephen Cohen is a paid adviser for VISTAKON® Division Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
This content was developed with the support of VISTAKON® Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

Important information for contact lens wearers: ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses are available by prescription only for vision correction. An eye care professional will determine whether contact lenses are right for you. Although rare, serious eye problems can develop while wearing contact lenses. To help avoid these problems, follow the wear and replacement schedule and the lens care instructions provided by your eye doctor. Do not wear contact lenses if you have an eye infection, or experience eye discomfort, excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. If one of these conditions occurs, contact your eye doctor immediately. For more information on proper wear, care and safety, talk to your eye care professional and ask for a Patient Instruction Guide, call 1-800-843-2020 or visit

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