Health and Mind: Sunglasses and sunscreen

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

By Amy Williams

Clark County Health Department

As most of us are aware, spring and summer are just around the corner. Some of us may have already experienced some of the sun’s harmful rays with either sunburns or squinting eyes that come from the often painful glare of the sun this season. As such, let this be a good reminder of how important sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, and protective clothing are during this busy upcoming outdoor time of year.

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How does UV radiation affect you? Overexposure to UV radiation has negative health effects, which range from short-term effects, such as sunburn, to long-term effects, such as skin cancer. Every year in the US, over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer, and as a result of skin cancer, one person dies every hour. Overexposure to UV radiation can also cause eye cataracts, eye damage, skin aging, growths on the skin, and immune system suppression.

Who is at risk? Although the sun can adversely affect everyone, some people are at higher risk for skin cancer when overexposed to UV radiation. People who are at the highest risk for skin cancer are those who spend excessive amounts of time in the sun, as well as those who get sunburns easily or frequently. Even though the risk of skin cancer is not equal for everyone, everyone should take precautions. It is also important to remember that everyone is equally at risk for eye damage due to overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. During the summer months, the level of ultraviolet radiation is three times greater than in the winter.” With this being said, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends selecting a sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher every day. It is also important to find a sunscreen described as being broad spectrum. Broad spectrum refers to a sunscreen that can protect from both UV-A and UV-B rays alike.

Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are also recommended. This is the best defense system against sunlight and harmful UV rays for your eyes and face. To be effective, both must be worn every time you are outside for prolonged periods of time, even when it is overcast. Again, dermatologists recommend sunscreen every day of the year.

As we now know how to shop for the best sunscreen, we should also know how to shop for the best sunglasses. It is important to purchase sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Do not be misled by the lens color or the price tag dangling from the frame. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens. UV protection can come from adding chemicals to the lens material during manufacturing or from a chemical coating applied to the lens surface.

The following steps can also greatly reduce your risk of sun-related illness:

• Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Whenever possible, seek shade

• Wear UV protective sunglasses

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and if possible, tightly woven, full-length clothing

• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30 SPF or above

• Avoid sunlamps and tanning salons

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Smoking Cessation, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care.  For more information on all of our service, please call 859-744-4482 or visit our website at You can also like us on Facebook.