It's official! Winter is here, which means in some parts of the country biting winds and frigid rain, snow and sleet aren't far behind. You wouldn't ever contemplate of leaving the house without a jacket in overcast weather, however surprisingly, a lot of people leave their sunglasses behind. Although the sun may not be our primary consideration during times that we are battling the bitter cold, the sun's rays are still in full force during the winter months, and in certain circumstances can be even more powerful.
For times when you frequent a location with snow, you should be even more cautious. In particular in the aftermath of a blizzard, the blanket of snow covering the world around you, actually intensifies the reflection of the sun. In fact, for many it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors after a heavy snowfall. The UV exposure that many of us are so careful in avoiding during the summer months may really be more dangerous during the winter due to the fact that it reflects off the snow or ice, resulting in a second exposure. This is why a sturdy pair of sunglasses is a necessary part of your winter wardrobe.
Even though you want to feel great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Check that they are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for complete coverage for your eyes. Many of the more affordable brands are made with full protection.
Another important factor in choosing sun wear is size. You will have the most protection when the lenses are large enough to completely shield your eyes and the surrounding areas as well. The more coverage you have, the less harmful UV rays will be able to get past your sunglasses. Glasses with side shield will also keep harmful rays from entering through the sides.
Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are essential beach gear because the water intensifies sunlight, this is also true for snow and ice. Therefore it is just as important to put on sunglasses during times when you go out skiing, ice skating or even taking a walk on a snowy day. Additionally UV exposure is more forceful at high altitudes, so if you have plans to hit the slopes keep this in mind.
This winter, keep warm and stay protected! Don't leave home without your shades.