Keep an 'eye' on UV rays

When you pick out a pair of sunglasses, the first thing you probably look for is how well you look in them.

That's all well and good, but you should also be concerned with how well they protect your eyes.

Here's what you should remember when looking for some shades.

Dr. Paul Tracy says, "Price of sunglasses has no effect on their ability to block the UV light. You can get really cheap glasses that do it, or you can spend a lot of money and not get the protection."

So where do you begin? First know, most sunglasses that protect you against harmful UV rays will tell you. If all else fails, check with your eye care professional.

Dr. Tracy says, "The key though is to make sure they actually block the UVA and UVB level lights. Those are the ones that cause the damage."

Dr. Paul Tracy from SPECS says start your kids in sunglasses as early as you can get them to wear them.

Dr. Tracy says, "Not too many people would send their kids out, or themselves, out without some sort of protection from the skin from UV lights. The eyes are just as sensitive to that."

Long term UV exposure can lead to earlier development of cataracts and macular degeneration in some people. Keep this in mind when buying sunglasses.

Dr. Tracy says, "If the sunglasses don't have the UV blockage, when you darken the lenses, the pupils get larger and will expose your eye to more UV. It could actually cause more harm if they don't have the proper UV protection."

UV blockage on glasses is actually clear, so most eyeglasses already have it. Remember, the darker the sunglasses, does not mean it's better for you.

Dr. Tracy says, " You have the gray, you have the brown, and a wide variance between the two. Gray level sunglasses actually just mute down all the colors across the board equally. You'll be able to tell the difference between the colors just as well as if you didn't have the sunglasses. Brown lenses actually block out more of the blue level light that causes most of the visual discomfort for people. It enhances things like reds and greens. They are really great for playing golf or normal driving."

Brown will also work well with an overcast sky that seems too bright.

During the summer months, your primary concern might be protecting your skin with sunblock to prevent skin cancer .

What many people fail to realize is ... those same UV or ultraviolet rays that we cannot see damaging our skin can damage our eyes as well.

Maybe you own sunglasses, but only because they make you look cool ... or you have sunglasses, but your kids don't. Well, here's something to think about ...

Exposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation from the sun's rays can have both long- and short-term effects on the eyes and your vision.

In the short-term, without protecting your eyes, you could develop uncomfortable symptoms from photokeratitis ... red eyes, gritty feeling in the eyes, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. This is because photokeratitis is like a sunburn to your eye. It could lead to temporary vision loss usually lasting 24-48 hours and you would need to seek medical treatment.

In the long-term, exposure to UV rays can lead to more serious problems. You could have a chance at developing cataracts, you could damage your retinas or problems could lead to macular degeneration.

When purchasing sunglasses, you should make sure they block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Look for frames that are close-fitting to provide the best protection.

Here are some helpful UV protection recommendations from All About Vision online:

KHQA's Chad Douglas will bring you more details on this important issue, so check this story later and watch KHQA's News at Five, KHQA's Evening News at 6 p.m. and KHQA's Late News at 10 p.m.