ZocdocAnswersDo swim goggles protect the eyes from sun damage?

Question

Do swim goggles protect the eyes from sun damage?

Is it true that swim goggles can protect your eyes from sun damage? I want to be very cautious about the sun because macular degeneration runs in my family, but it definitely seems like my swim goggles cut down on the glare.

Answer

Your swim goggles, and any glasses, will not protect your eyes from the sun unless they have "UV Protection." UV is the shortened form of UltraViolet, which is a type of energy emitted by the sun that we can't see with our eyes. (Glare is something entirely different). This energy can penetrate the our skin and affect our DNA by causing mutations that can ultimately lead to problems including cancer. DNA is the "instructions" that our body uses to repair itself, such as when old skin is sloughed off and replaced by younger skin underneath. The new cells are created by cells that use DNA to replicate and make exact copies of themselves. When anything causes harm to these instructions (the DNA), the cells can't replicate perfectly. In most cases, the body recognizes this and the damaged cells are destroyed. In extreme instances, the damaged cells manage to replicate and occasionally replicate continuously without ceasing, which is then a cancer. That is one of the more serious ways that sunlight can affect the skin, and is the reason that doctors recommend skin and eye protection from the UV rays of the sun. But there's more to your question: will wearing eye protection keep you from developing macular degeneration? Recent evidence seems to indicate that extra sun exposure will NOT cause macular degeneration. Instead, genetic predispositions (DNA again!) make certain people more likely to develop this. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other things that you CAN control make you more likely to develop this condition.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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