Many feel that sunglasses in the surf are a hindrance, but they should be the piece of equipment second only to your board. Sunglasses designed for surfers may look like regular sunglasses, but they some very important differences. The thoughtful and highly technical design of this type of eyewear provides extremely important protection for the avid surfer.
These sunglasses are designed to withstand the pounding surf and, with the use of a strap, stay affixed to your head. They are also specifically designed to reduce ultraviolet (UV) rays, which may cause sunburn and eventually lead to the development of cataracts. Surf sunglasses also block blue wavelengths that are linked to macular degeneration, and even diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
While you are enjoying the surf, you don’t want to neglect taking care of your eyes.
Read on for more detailed information about protective eyewear, how you can use it to protect your eyes and mitigate the risks you face from the sun and it’s reflection on the water and sand. Additionally, there is information about the difference between regular sunglasses and those designed for surfing as well as the accessories needed to ensure their comfort and fit when you are out on your board.
Risks of Surfing without Protective Eyewear
As previously mentioned, there are several types of health risks, specifically for your eyes, associated with being exposed to direct sunlight while surfing. The dangers of these risks can lead to any of the following:
- Excessive exposure to harsh UV rays over short periods of time can lead to photokeratitis, which is a burning of the cornea. This health issue develops over a long period of time, but it has been shown to be directly related to not using protective eyewear while surfing. A common form of this condition is known as “snow blindness.”
- Pterygium is a common condition developed by surfers. Also referred to as surfer’s eye, it is a noncancerous growth in the eye that develops over time due to prolonged exposure to UV rays.
- Pinguecula is another eye condition that can be developed by surfers who do not wear proper sunglasses. This eye condition is also noncancerous and appears as a yellow bump (growth) on the conjunctiva tissue near the cornea. It is also caused by long-term sun exposure.
Everyone knows that looking directly into the sun can cause temporary blindness. But even surfing day after day, year after year, will exposure your unprotected eyes to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and can create pain and discomfort. Once your vision becomes impaired from sun exposure, it is likely that your ability to read the waves will also be reduced.
Luckily, there is a readily available solution!
A modest investment in sunglasses designed to meet the demands of the avid surfer can go a long way to protecting your eyes, and keep you ripping the waves for years to come.
What Qualities Make the Best Surf Sunglasses?
Not all sunglasses designed and sold are made to withstand the rigors of the waves. Only those that are designed specifically for the surf should be considered as appropriate eyewear to have in order to combat the effects of photokeratitis (snow blindness), pterygium (surfer’s eye) and pinguecula, as well as macular degeneration and cataracts.
The basic characteristics or qualities of the sunglasses you choose for surfing should include:
Fit is the easiest quality to define when discussing the purchase of surf sunglasses. The sunglasses you choose should be positioned perfectly on your face and retain their shape every time you use them on the surf. In addition to proper placement for the best vision, your sunglasses should be designed to give you the maximum amount of comfort. Wearing ill-fitting glasses that cause discomfort is counterproductive to enjoying the waves.
Anti-impact and anti-fog are also two important qualities that you should not overlook when choosing the correct and best quality sunglasses for surfing in. Your sunglasses should be able to withstand the amount of pounding you take when riding a wave. This means they are designed to be flexible, durable and not break easily after a few times out on the surf. You also need sunglasses that do not mist or fog up when in use. An anti-fog sunglass offers invaluable benefits to you as a surfer. You can’t afford to lose focus and visibility when you are out back.
You may also consider prescription sunglasses where needed, in the case where such eyewear helps to improve your vision and visibility when catching the big wave. These types of sunglasses may prove beneficial if you suffer from poor eyesight and are in need of an additional vision aide that helps you enjoy the sport of surfing and offer you the important eye protection that you need.
Strap 'Em Down!
Don't forget straps for your sunglasses. Sunglass straps ensure that your eyeglass protection stays in place when you are in the pocket or paddling out back. The idea is to have straps that are adjustable, in order to maximize the comfort of your sunglasses when worn. Again, the purpose of wearing sunglasses when surfing is to reduce your eyes’ exposure to the danger of ultraviolet rays that can be harmful and cause damage to your sight.
When purchasing head straps for your sunglasses, it is important to take into account the same considerations as the eyewear. Fit, comfort and anti-impact are as important considerations for the straps you choose as the sunglasses themselves. Straps that do not adjust properly to your head do not provide you with the type of protection needed to keep your sunglasses in place in order to reduce the damaging effects of the sun on your eyes. As important as it is to select glasses that are designed specifically for the conditions you face on the water, it is equally important to have straps that fit properly and are adjustable to your head. You also want to make sure that the strap will float.
Invest the money in those sunglasses and lenses specifically designed to provide you with the important protection that you need and that can withstand the rigors of the sport. Protecting your eyes from potential harm and danger will ensure you’ll be taking drops and carving year after year.