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Do I Need to Wear Sunglasses in the Winter?

Man and woman outside wearing sunglasses

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As the days get colder—and shorter—a common question comes to mind: do I need to wear sunglasses in the winter? 


Although you may feel less heat from the sun during the winter months, don’t be fooled: your sunglasses are just as important on chilly winter days as they are during the summer. 


Here are five reasons to wear sunglasses in the winter:


1. UV rays are stronger

While moments in the sun are sparse in the wintertime, the ultraviolet rays are just as potent. In fact, the sun sits lower in the sky during the winter months. When the sun bounces off snow and ice, it produces a powerful glare that doubles our exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Further, many winter sports take place at high altitudes, where the sun’s UV rays are stronger.


Prolonged exposure to UV rays—even in the winter months—can increase your chance of certain eye problems, including:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Skin cancer occurring around the eyes


2. Glare from snow and ice

It’s a common occurrence for many drivers in the winter: the bright sun reflects off of the snow and ice on the road, creating a powerful glare that briefly blinds the eyes. This sudden vision impairment is known as “snow-blindness,” or photokeratitis. Because a windshield offers very little protection from glare, it is important to store a pair of sunglasses in the car to cut down on glare. Also, grab a pair if you plan on walking or playing sports outdoors. 


If you are in the market to buy new sunglasses, consider getting an anti-glare and UV and prevencia coating. Visit our optical center to learn more about different lens coatings.


3. Reduce headaches and eye strain

Eye strain occurs when the pupils are unable to adjust to a comfortable brightness level. In the bright winter sun, the pupils cannot constrict enough to reduce light exposure. As a result, we tend to squint or rub our eyes, leading to eye strain and headaches. Sunglasses reduce the amount of light that reaches the eye, which, in turn, reduces vision-related headaches. 


Your eye health is a leading source of headaches. Click here to learn about digital eye strain. 


4. Winter sports and activities

Sunglasses aren’t just for style—they can provide serious protection for your eyes during winter sports and activities. Outdoor sports like snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, and hiking call for proper protective eyewear to prevent injury, no matter your age or intensity of exercise. Sunglasses and goggles are essential for protection and to cut-down on glare from snow and ice.


5. Barrier from the wind, dust, and debris 

Sunglasses can work as a protective barrier between your eyes and the winter’s harsh winds, dust, and debris. Wearing sunglasses keeps contact lenses from drying, and also prevents corneal abrasions from windblown particles. Fitted, wrap-around sunglasses are particularly effective at protecting the eyes from the winter environment.



Even though the sun isn’t as hot or intense in the winter, your eyes still need protection against the sun. When you go outside, remember to bring a pair of sunglasses with you. You can view our sunglass selection here, or contact our opticians to discuss which type of sunglasses will fit your activities and lifestyle.

Rodrigue and Associates Eyecare is the leading eye care specialty practice in Augusta, Maine. For over 38 years, we have focused on providing our patients with the highest quality optometric and medical eyecare.

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