Think of Sunglasses as Sunblock for Your Eyes ™

Dr. Finger advises patients on the ways in which they can avoid eye cancers, including eye cancers caused by radiation from the sun.

Ultraviolet Radiation

The sun gives off many forms of energy. Visible light from the sun helps us see the world around us. Other forms of light are not visible to the eye. These include ultraviolet (UV) light and infrared (IR) light. Even though these forms of light are not visible to the eye, they are still absorbed by the eye and the eyelids.

When all forms of light are absorbed by the body, a reaction occurs which results in heat and chemical changes. Ultraviolet light rays are particularly energetic and cause more chemical reactions (damage) in ocular tissues than visible light.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Exposure Contributes To:

  • Eye Cancers
  • Benign Growths on the Eye
  • Corneal Burns
  • Cataract
  • Solar Retinopathy
  • Macular Degeneration

Drugs That Can Increase UV Toxicity:

  • Chlorothiazides
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tetracycline
  • Phenothiazines
  • Psoralens

If you are taking any of these drugs, care should be taken to reduce your exposure to ultraviolet light (e.g. sunlight).

Occupational Exposure to UV is Related To Sun Exposure

  • Truck Drivers
  • Mailpersons
  • Couriers
  • Pilots
  • Lifeguards
  • Farmers
  • Anglers
  • Astronauts
  • Ski Instructors
  • Park Rangers
  • Police Officers
  • Construction Workers

These occupations (among others) as well as recreational exposure can increase your risk.

Sun Block

Ultraviolet radiation is divided into UVA, UVB, and UVC. Sun block is primarily used to block UVB from burning our skin and causing cancer. SPF generally means Sun Protection Factor for UVB rays. That is SPF 8 means that if a person normally develops sunburn in 15 minutes, it will take 2 hours (8 times 15 minutes) before they burn. Some new sunblocks also stop UVA exposure, but only the opaque zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer total protection by blocking all light.



Sunglasses should block all UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Be careful and ask for 100% UV protection. Your optical shop should have a machine that measures UV transmission through glasses called a “photometer.” The photometer should find that your sunglasses block all UV radiation or light under 400 nm in wavelength.

Sun Blocking Clothes

There are specialty clothes and hats that can be used to block Ultraviolet Radiation. For more information contact


Q: What color sunglasses should I choose?

A: You may choose any color (gray, brown, green, or yellow). Some colors will affect your color vision. If you have a color vision problem gray is best (especially for driving). You can have a clear UV blocking coating on your regular glasses.

Q: What else can I do to decrease glare?

A: Polarizers and antireflective coatings can be added to your glasses to decrease glare.

Q: Do cataract implants block UV light?

A: Yes, new implants (IOL’s) contain UV blocking agents. Make sure to ask your doctor before your surgery.

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