Summer and spring are the common sunny seasons with lots of time spent outside. Many people wear hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect their eyes and skin from the harsh rays. As winter rolls around, you may think it’s time to trade in your sunglasses for hats and scarves. While those extra layers will keep you warm, it’s best to wear sunglasses in the winter.
Whether you’re hitting the slopes or out walking the dog, you should consider eye protection all year long. With the excessive glare from the snow and how the sun’s position changes for the season, there are more than a few reasons to keep your sunglasses out for the winter. Let’s explore some of the best winter sunglasses to keep you stylish and protected.
Why You Should Wear Sunglasses in the Winter
It may be surprising to find that UV rays are harsher in the winter than in the summer. Although it seems the sun is burning hotter and brighter in July, by December it sits lower in the sky, increasing glare. Winter is known as “sun glare season” to those concerned with eye protection because the sun’s position relative to the Earth is lower than at any other time of year, causing dangerous glare. Experts at the Mayo Clinic warn that the increased UV radiation from the sun can damage your eyelids, cornea, and eye lens.
Wearing sunglasses is an excellent solution for this increased glare and the best winter sunglasses will offer high UV protection. Wearing sunglasses in the winter helps protect your eyes from the harsh winds and dry air. Plus, since most trees are bare, there is less shade in the winter to keep your eyes protected from the sunlight.
Along with more glare due to the sun’s position, the snow and ice can further increase the glare. Just like bodies of water reflect the sun’s rays, so do ice and snow. Snow and ice surfaces act like mirrors, reflecting up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays back to your eyes. Even on overcast days, the sun’s rays can break through clouds, bounce off ice and snow, and damage your eyes. That’s why the best sunglasses for winter are designed to protect against up to 99% of all UV rays to keep your eyes safe.
Harsh Winds and Dry Air
The winter months can be dry and windy. These factors are detrimental to your eyes and the delicate skin around them. Dry air causes your eyes to lose moisture which leads to irritation while wind can carry dust and debris which can scratch and damage your eyes. Wearing sunglasses in the winter adds an extra barrier between your face and these damaging elements.
Snow blindness is a more common term for an eye condition called photokeratitis (“photo,” meaning light, and “keratitis,” meaning inflammation of the cornea). Often compared to a sunburn on the eye, photokeratitis is painful and impairs vision. Symptoms may include seeing halos around lights, light sensitivity, blurred vision, eye pain, and a gritty or burning sensation in the eye. Some individuals also experience headaches and eye or eyelid swelling as well.
Snow blindness is a primary concern for those who enjoy snowboarding, skiing, and other high altitude winter sports. At these higher altitudes, UV exposure is stronger, so the best winter sunglasses for snowboarders and skiers include extra precautions to protect the eyes and face. According to The American Cancer Society, long hours outside without sun protection increases your risk of developing some eye diseases. Winter sports tend to take up multiple hours, making them risky for individuals who don’t think wearing sunglasses in the winter is important.
When it comes to preventing snow blindness, what works best? Winter sunglasses. However, if you neglect to wear sunglasses, there are a few things you can do to help. If you experience snow blindness, it’s best to give your eyes a rest for a few days. Try to stay inside and limit your light exposure. Artificial tears can help alleviate some pain, but if it continues for more than a few days, it’s best to see an ophthalmologist to get expert advice.
The Best Winter Sunglasses
There are a few common components to look for in winter sunglasses. For those engaged in winter sports like snowboarding and skiing, polarized sunglasses are essential to reduce glare and increase visibility.
Another valuable asset for winter athletes are flexible frames with side protection. Side shades or wraparound frames block additional rays from the peripherals, further increasing visibility. This extra protection also blocks more debris from coming in and damaging eyes. Flexible frames are valuable because they are more resistant to breakage. No matter how experienced you are on the slopes, there may be another less experienced skier who may knock into you and send your sunglasses flying. The best winter sunglasses have durable frames and scratch-resistant lenses to keep your glasses safe.
Finally, the best winter sunglasses are those with the highest UV protection, keeping you safe from snow blindness and other damaging effects of the sun’s harsher glare. Every pair of Privado sunglasses comes with the highest UVA and UVB protection, polarized and scratch-resistant lenses, and durable, hypoallergenic frames to fit all your winter sunglasses needs. The Seductus and Pygmy are just a few examples of our high-quality, stylish sunglasses that offer complete face protection and exceptional visual clarity.