Skip to content

Men's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Winter Means Wearing Sunglasses

Your eyes need protection from the sun's intense ultraviolet rays.
By
WebMD Feature

You may feel less heat from that winter sun -- but don't be fooled. Those trendy sunglasses you bought last summer are just as important now. The sun's rays can still do serious damage to your eyes, whether you live in snowy Chicago or sunny L.A.

"People don't realize that just because the sun isn't as intense or as hot, they need protection," says Susan Taub, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago.

Recommended Related to Men

Going Bald: It’s All in Your Head

Sitting in high school biology, listening to the teacher drone on about genetics, I snapped to attention when she used male pattern baldness as an example of a dominant trait. My heart started pounding with fear - with bald men on both sides of my mother's family as far as the eye could see, I was doomed to have a chrome dome. I remained anguished about the prospect of being bald for the next 20 years as my hairline retreated and my hair steadily thinned. Bald men seemed disfigured to me. I felt...

Read the Going Bald: It’s All in Your Head article > >

The winter sun sits lower in the sky -- and at a different angle -- than during warmer seasons, she says. "That actually gives you more exposure if you're out for a longer period of time, like at sports and other events," she tells WebMD. "It can be damaging to various layers of the eye."

Research shows that the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can contribute to various eye diseases related to aging, like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Anyone who spends long hours outdoors, take note. "In reality, people need sunglasses all year long," Taub says. "Anyone who has driven when there's snow on the ground knows that. Even when there isn't snow, you're still at risk because of the glare coming off the cement."

Because snow is reflective, up to 85% of the sun's UV rays are reflected upward, according to the Vision Council of America. Also, the reflective qualities of snow make it difficult for skiers to see the slope as they descend, possibly causing injuries.

In the short term, those UV rays can cause sunburned eyes. In snow country, they call it snow blindness -- and it's a big problem for skiers and snowmobilers. Without eye protection, snow blindness can damage the cornea for up to a week. "The surface of the eyes are actually sunburned," Taub says. "It's usually very painful but heals within a week."

Certain drugs also can make eyes and skin more sensitive to the sun's rays -- birth-control pills, sulfa antibiotics, diuretics, and tranquilizers. "You get sunburned in one-third or one-tenth of the time than usual," she tells WebMD.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
 
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video