Imagine it’s a beautiful 75-degree summer day without a cloud in the sky, the perfect day for a round of golf—that is, until you realize you forgot your sunglasses. Playing without protective eyewear is not only frustrating, but it can also have long-term consequences to eye health and can impact your performance. In fact, overexposure to UV rays can burn eye tissue and increase the risk of developing eye conditions that can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and in worst cases blindness.

To ensure that you are able to see clearly for your best performance and to protect your vision for the long-term, make sure that you are aware of the misconceptions about the sun’s dangers and are wearing the appropriate protective eyewear both on and off the course.

Common Myths About UV Light

Myth #1: Sunglasses are only necessary in the summer

FACT: The damaging effects of UV rays are present during all four seasons. Sunglasses with UV protection are necessary whenever you spend time outdoors, that includes when you head to the course for a round of golf no matter the time of year.

Myth #2: UV rays aren’t harmful when it is overcast

FACT: UV rays affect the eyes even when the sun is not shining brightly. Even if it is cloudy during the day, UV rays are present. UV rays reflect off water, white sand, pavement, snow and even grass, meaning they are present on the golf course.

Myth #3: Adults’ eyes are at a higher risk of sun damage than children’s

FACT: Children’s eyes are more vulnerable to sun damage than an adult’s eyes because they are still developing. The lenses of children’s eyes are more transparent than those of adults and their pupils are larger, allowing more light in. Children also tend to spend more time outdoors than adults, increasing their exposure to harmful UV light. The next time you take your child out on the course, remember to protect their eyes by having them wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

The Importance of Protective Eyewear

Wearing protective sunglasses reduces glare on the course, helps with vision clarity on sunny days and protects the eyes from harmful UV rays that can damage tissue and increase the risk of developing debilitating and costly vision conditions. That is because UV exposure has been found to break down the sensitive tissues in the eye responsible for central vision. Because UV damage is often only noticed once it begins to affect sight, proactive steps to protect against UV exposure on the course are essential.

Finding the Right Protective Eyewear

Not all eyewear is created equal. Below are a few examples of features to keep in mind when selecting eyewear that will protect your eyes, reduce eyestrain and aid performance.

  • Polycarbonate lenses have built in UV protection and are considered the most effective safety lens, due to their high impact resistance.
  • Wrap-around sunglasses cover your temples and block UV rays from the side, minimizing your eyes’ exposure to UV light.
  • Sunglasses that are 100% UV protected block both UV-A and UV-B rays, both of which are harmful to the eyes and can cause vision loss after excessive exposure.
  • Performance sunglasses provide added durability when playing a sport. They are often polarized to reduce glare and have durable frames that provide the best possible wear when active.
  • Photochromatic or Transitions® lenses are a kind of optical lens that darken when exposed to a sufficient frequency of light. The lenses return to their transparent state when indoors or when there is an absence of high frequency light. These lenses respond to UV light, providing protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

A game of golf can last several hours and is often played in direct sunlight. When selecting eyewear for the course, keep in mind common misconceptions about overexposure to sunlight and make sure you’re choosing eyewear that blocks both UV-A and UV-B rays for your best performance.