Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil just released the findings of a study that reveals something important you probably have never thought about before: whether or not your sunglasses have “expired.”
There’s a chance those classic Ray-Bans you’ve been wearing for 10 years may have lost some of their ability to shield your eyes—and the super delicate skin around them—from the sun’s damaging rays. The study tested sunglass lenses using Brazil’s standards for proper UV protection and discovered that the current safety measurements aren’t sufficient.
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Although the U.S. adheres to different standards for sunglasses, New York oculoplastic surgeon Irene Gladstein, MD, says this new study may back up consumers’ decisions to invest in a new pair of shades sooner rather than later. “This study out of Brazil may be the first step in revising the recommendations on how often sunglasses have to be replaced in order to maintain their UV-protection qualities. It seems that UV protection may weaken over time, thus allowing the harmful sun rays to pass through and cause a long-term impact to the eyes, as well as the skin around them.”
So if you find yourself questioning whether your vintage shades are still keeping your eyes safe, you may not have to replace them just yet. “Head into your local eyewear retailer and ask them to test your lenses’ UV protection levels to make sure you know how well they’re working,” says Dr. Gladstein.
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Other things Dr. Gladstein recommends you can do to help protect your sunglasses from “expiring” sooner rather than later? “Look for ‘100% UV protection’ on the tag when you buy and avoid buying them at a place with prior sun exposure—like on the beach or boardwalk.”
And although we harp on the importance of sunscreen use day in and day out, we’ll say it again: It’s important to wear it all over, even on your eyelids. “I commonly hear surprised responses from my patients when I recommend applying SPF, especially formulated for facial use. They say, ‘But I am wearing my sunglasses?’ However, there is much more to UV rays than what is right in front of our eyes,” says Dr. Gladstein. “Light tends to bounce and reflect all around. Wearing both SPF and sunglasses will keep your eyes and eyelids safe and beautiful for years to come.”