Remember sunglasses this summer

More than a fashion statement, sunglasses are an important tool to protect eyes from the sun's harmful rays. With summer just around the corner, the Spokane Eye Clinic reminds patients of the importance of wearing sunglasses.

UV radiation can have adverse short-term and long-term effects on the eyes and vision. Overexposure to the sun can cause photokeratitis or a "sunburn of the cornea." Photokeratitis can cause painful discomfort, a gritty feeling in the eyes and even temporary loss of vision.

Long-term overexposure to UV rays can increase the risk of developing age-related cataracts and macular degeneration. It also may cause irreversible damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye.

A good pair of sunglasses protects the eyes from overexposure to UV radiation. Sunglasses should block 97 to 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays as well as reduce the amount of light and glare getting to the eye.

Sunglasses should be worn whenever you are outside and exposed to UV. Sunglasses are just as necessary on overcast or moderately cloudy days.

Remember to protect children's eyes with sunglasses too. Their eyes are more sensitive to UV damage than adults because the lenses of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults allowing shorter wavelength light to reach the retina.