Remember when you were a kid, and people told you if you stared at the sun, you would go blind? Most of us were so badly scarred by the thought of losing our vision we kept our heads down and never dared steal a peak. Solar eclipse? Hard pass.
It’s true that ultraviolet rays can lead to vision loss, but it’s not true that staring at the sun will cause immediate blindness. Even if you stare at the sun for over a full minute during the day, you probably won’t go totally blind, but you will damage your retina, eventually lose some vision, and maybe even wind up with a bad case of photokeratitis.
Here at Stoggles, we know eyes. We’ll tell you why keeping them healthy should be a top-level priority and tell you what kind of activities and conditions can damage your eyesight (hint: you’re engaged in one of them right now).
Why the Eyes Matter
Obviously, you don’t want to lose your vision, but you might not understand how precariously close you are to losing it on a daily basis. Yes, really. An injury to the eye could cause blindness, which, if you didn’t already know, isn’t “fixable.”
Your eyes work by collecting light reflected off of images. The cornea collects the light, the pupil and the iris focus the light onto the lens, and the lens sends the light to the back of your eye, where the retina is located.
The retina is home to specialized cells that transform light into electrical signals. These signals then travel to the brain via the optic nerve, and the brain interprets the signals into the images we see in front of us.
The high-tech cells that make vision happen are limited in number, and they don’t have the ability to regenerate. That means when they are damaged or destroyed, a portion of our vision is lost. And that’s lost lost. Not the kind of lost like Nicholas Cage finding “lost” treasure or your mom finding your lost retainer in the cafeteria trash can.
Protecting your retinal cells is vital, especially considering they are only covered by your eyelids, a thin flap of skin that won’t hold up against a flying piece of debris or intrusive dust. No offense to eyelids, but they’re kinda weak.
How Common Is Vision Loss?
About 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from some type of vision impairment or blindness. In the U.S., vision loss can happen due to accidents like strikes, scrapes, spills, or splatters or due to age-related illnesses.
There are over four million Americans who have vision impairment that isn’t correctable, meaning their retinal cells have sustained damage that can’t be fixed. If this seems like heavy information, we’d agree, which is why we’re so laser-focused on keeping eyes healthy and safe.
10 Things That Can Damage Your Eyesight
Being proactive about your eyesight means taking care of your eyes, getting regular eye exams, wearing corrective lenses if you need them, and watching out for vision-related pitfalls like the ones we’re about to outline.
Okay, you can’t avoid this one (unless you are a superhero/vampire), but you can take steps to ensure your eyes are healthy for the long haul. As retinal cells age, they naturally begin to decline. The macula, which is located inside the retina and responsible for fine, detailed vision, begins to lose its ability, which causes macular degeneration.
Although there’s no cure for age-related vision loss, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and wearing corrective lenses, if necessary, can all slow the process and keep your eyes healthy.
2. UV Light
Although it won’t instantaneously blind you, it will damage your eyes. Both UVA and UVB rays can reach the retina and age the retinal cells faster than they would by just standard aging. In addition, you can develop painful conditions like corneal burns, which can take weeks to heal.
Think of the sun on your eyes like the effects of a tanning bed on your skin; after years of exposure, you’ll end up looking more like leather luggage than an actual human being. Too much sun in your eyes will age your eyes in the same way; it’s just less visible.
- Tip: UV-blocking glasses keep your eyes protected from the sun. Most sunglasses have UV protection, but for days that are overcast or if you’re exposed to UV light indoors, grab clear, safety eyewear that blocks ultraviolet rays. Stoggles, for instance, are made from polycarbonate material, which is naturally UV-blocking.
3. Too Much Alcohol
Excessive alcohol use can lead to permanent vision loss over time due to weakening eye muscles. This condition happens gradually, and you likely won’t know you’re at risk until you’ve actually developed it. Not drinking or drinking in moderation is the best way to avoid this situation.
Just like drinking, smoking can age your eyes faster than they would normally. Smoking can cause cataracts to form at an early age, which may or may not be able to be removed with surgery. Plus — lung damage, y’all.
5. Eye Drop Usage
Going HAM on eyedrops every day is not a good idea. Eye drops that prevent red eyes (which some use to cover up bloodshot eyes from smoking and drinking) can constrict blood vessels in the eye. Over time, this can damage the blood vessels and impact your vision.
6. Screen Time
You probably have a screen time limit set for your kids, but do you have one for yourself? Staring at screens is a two-part problem:
- It decreases blinking. Blinking is what lubricates our eyes. When we stare at tv, computer, and smartphone screens for extended periods of time, we naturally blink less, which can lead to dry eyes.
A way to fix it? Try the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of staring at a screen, look at something about 20 feet from you for approximately 20 seconds.
- It exposes you to blue light. Blue light, like ultraviolet light, is emitted from the sun, but it also comes from LED televisions, computer screens, tablets, and smartphones. Blue light can penetrate the eye and reach the retina, potentially harming your vision.
The remedy for blue light exposure is blue light-blocking glasses. All Stoggles come standard with this technology, so your eyes stay safe from UV light and blue light.
7. Skipping Safety Eyewear
Welcome back. Our next eyesight-damaging activity is forgoing the use of safety eyewear when you need it (which is way more often than you think). Experts say that more than 90% of all eye-related injuries are completely (read 100%) preventable by simply wearing the correct, properly fitted safety glasses for the occasion.
At Stoggles, we test our eyewear to the highest industry standards. All Stoggles are ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified, which means they’ve undergone testing to ensure they will not shatter under high-mass impact or high-velocity impact. It’s okay when tacos fall apart, but glasses? Not so much.
If you wear corrective glasses, don’t try to use them to protect your eyes; they aren’t made to withstand impact. They also leave your eyes vulnerable around the sides and top.
Side and top shields on your safety eyewear prevent debris from entering your eye area and are a better solution than wraparound styles. Wraparound styles can warp your vision, especially if you wear prescription safety glasses.
8. Not Visiting the Eye Doctor
You get a yearly physical to make sure your body is okay, but when was the last time you had an eye exam? Skipping a routine eye exam is a bad mistake.
Having a yearly eye exam can rule out any eye-related diseases and can help correct your vision if your eyesight is weakening. If you haven’t had an eye exam this year, go give your optometrist some action.
9. Wearing Foggy Glasses
Fogging glasses can be distracting, which can mean you take your eyes off the road, off the game, or off of your power tools.
Instead, opt for the eyewear that has anti-fog-coated lenses. These types of lenses change the surface tension of water vapor on your glasses which prevents fogging and keeps your eyes safe.
Just so you know, all Stoggles have this anti-fogging feature. Call us crazy, but we don’t think safety eyewear is really safe if it fogs and has to be removed. That’s why we spent nine magical months crafting the ultimate anti-fog solution — this dip-in mixture is unlike anything else on the market, and it’s our perfect little bundle of joy.
10. Certain Medical Conditions
Diabetes and high blood pressure, for instance, can cause damage to your blood vessels which can lead to vision impairment. Diabetic retinopathy can cause blurred vision and eventual vision loss.
Healthy Eyes for Life
So now you know; looking at the sun won’t blind you, and for what it’s worth, crossing your eyes won’t make them get stuck that way. However, ignoring your eye safety and eye health can lead to long-term vision problems and eventual vision loss that may be irreversible.
At Stoggles, our goal is to keep your eyes safe without compromising your exquisite sense of style or making you feel uncomfortable. That’s why you’ll find the very best protection in the very best (and most comfortable) frames in colors that are, well, the very best.
Can You Go Blind from Staring at the Sun? | MyVision.org
Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders | CDC
Potential Alcohol Effects on Vision & Eye Health|Complete Eye Care.net