As he was leaving home, David Peed noticed none of the men he saw working on his roof were wearing sunglasses.
The Columbus optometrist suggests they start.
"Anyone who works a lot outside, such as construction workers, should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes," he said.
But it is not only workers who need protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Peed said anybody who spends an extensive amount of time outdoors should wear sunglasses, and that includes children.
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Because infants and small children have little pigment in their eyes to help filter UV rays, the potential for damage is greater.
He said while wearing a hat with
a brim is good, sunglasses really provide what is needed.
May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month sponsored by the Prevent Blindness America.
More people get out in the sun during the summer, but damage from exposure to UV rays can happen anytime.
He said sunglasses are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so even the cheapest ones should provide 100 percent protection.
"Just check the label on the glasses," said Peed, who opened Preferred Eye Care/Optical here in 1985.
Polarized sunglasses provide clearer vision. Wraparound glasses are best for blocking out light.
Peed said wearing sunglasses is especially important when a person is around water, sand or snow, which reflect UV rays.
People living in high altitudes or in equatorial regions are very susceptible to eye damage.
Peed said people who do not wear goggles in a tanning bed can suffer eye damage from UV rays. So can people who do arc welding without proper eye protection.
Short-term excessive exposure can lead to photo-keratitis or photoconjunctivitis, both of which affect the eye's tender external tissues.
"It's like a sunburn of the eyes," Peed said.
Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea and photocojunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. There can be pain, sensitivity to light, blurriness and a gritty feeling in the eyes.
Chronic long-term, low-level exposure to UV rays can produce slowly developing, permanent damage to the eye tissues and can be sight threatening.
Peed said not protecting the eyes from UV rays can lead to damage of the retina, a factor in macular degeneration.
UV exposure appears to be a major risk factor leading to cataracts, which the World Health Organization calls the leading cause of blindness.
Cancer is also a threat, not just in the eyes, but the skin around the eyes.
Doing mission work in Honduras, Peed has seen cane field workers, who toil in the sun all day, be stricken with pterygium, a growth in the corner of the eye which can grow over the cornea blocking vision.
"Some of them were just in their 20s," Peed said.
The Environmental Protection Agency advises people to make sure sunglasses fit well and says parents should choose sunglasses that fit a child's active lifestyle but are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles.
The American Optometric Association says if a person participates in potentially eye-hazardous work or sports, that the lenses of the sunglasses should be made from polycarbonate or Trivex material which will provide the most impact resistance.