When you hear the word “winter,” you typically think of snowflakes, sledding, hot chocolate, freezing temperatures and ice on the roads. When we hear the word “sunglasses,” we tend to think about the summer season, when sunny days rule the weeks and we hit the beach and enjoy outdoor activities.
However, wearing sunglasses is just as important – if not more important – during the winter season. Here are five reasons to encourage your children to wear shades this winter.
Snow Largely Reflects the Sun’s Rays
Have you ever noticed how bright it tends to get outside during the winter? This is because snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays, a far greater percentage of reflection compared to water, sand, cement, grass and dirt. The reflection of the sunlight causes an intense glare that makes it difficult to see. That’s why it’s important to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from this intense glare and prevent the intense sun’s rays from burning the outer layers of your eyes.
Spending Time Outdoors Increases the Risk of Damage
The more time spent outdoors participating in winter activities equals the more chance for eye damage due to the sun’s rays. This does not mean you should keep your children indoors, but instead take precautions by having them wear sunglasses when playing in the snow. Remember that being outdoors on snow-covered, hilly ground allows reflected rays to come at the eyes from different angles, meaning that the protection that a hat brim offers, for example, is limited. There also tend to be lower and fewer clouds in the winter months. These offer less protection from the sun, so be aware of those extra sunny days.
Higher Altitudes, Lower Protection
The winter season gives the perfect excuse to take the family on a vacation to a ski resort. These locations are typically located at higher elevations in the mountains, since skiing and other winter activities require this type of terrain. It’s important to recognize that at these higher elevations there is less atmosphere between you and the sun to filter out harmful rays, which means you need to be extra cautious about your eyes. Pack a pair of sunglasses for everyone in the family and make sure everyone consistently wears them outdoors. This can also help encourage your youngest children to follow suit.
Reflected UV Rays Can Cause Snow Blindness
UV rays reflected off ice and snow cause snow blindness, a form of a painful eye condition called photokeratitis. Healthychildren.org says this condition is somewhat like sunburn but on the cornea of the eye. Some symptoms to recognize include excessive blinking or unexplained crankiness in infants and toddlers who are not wearing sunglasses. Older children may experience eye discomfort, excessive brightness, irritation, dryness and difficulty blinking. Symptoms of snow blindness may appear immediately or can manifest eight to 12 hours following exposure. Though most cases of snow blindness heal on their own within a few days, the damage it causes is permanent and can increase the risk of cataracts later in life.
The Skin of the Eyelids Is Extremely Sensitive
The skin of the eyelids burns easily because it is thin and extremely sensitive. This can cause sunburn and other eyelid damage during the winter. Wearing hats or visors with brims at least three inches wide can help shade the eyelids from the sun’s damaging rays, but the light reflecting off snow means that your eyes can be exposed to harmful rays from all directions, which makes it all the more important to wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside this winter.
The best sunglasses to buy for winter – and all throughout the year – are a pair that blocks 99 percent or more of both UVA and UVB radiation. The glasses should fit snugly and cover the area between the eyebrows and middle of the cheeks to afford the best protection. Sunglasses Real Kids Shades block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, and are available in a wide range of colors and fits to match your child’s preferences and sense of style. Shop our online inventory and find the perfect shades for the whole family today!