Doctors seeing increase in eye damage likely from sun, lack of people wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses put to the test

CLEVELAND (WEWS) - The sun is finally shining in northeast Ohio after a rainy spring. So, how much do you need to spend on sunglasses to protect your eyes? We put cheap and expensive pairs to the test to see if there's any difference in protection.

Some people prefer polarized sunglasses, while others said they just buy whatever looks good. While style and price drive a lot of consumer decisions, quality should be the focus.

"I do believe we have a vision of sight and we need to keep them protected," mom Tina Goebel said.

Goebel has a family history of glaucoma. She's doing everything possible to make sure it's not passed onto the next generation, but navigating the confusing labels on sunglasses isn't easy.

You need to look for UV protection, but there is no standard label. Also, the claims vary. We saw UV-400, 100 percent UV protection to some shades having no UV label at all.

"Sometimes the cheap ones work. Sometimes they don't. That's why we come here and get them tested," Goebel said.

The Ripkin Vision and Laser Center offers free sunglass testing for patients. It takes seconds, but could save your sight for years. We put several pairs of sunglasses to the test ranging in price from $1 to over $200.

Optometrists say you'll pay a big price if you don't wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days. As the ozone erodes, more eye problems are popping up.

"The reality is that ultraviolet is a major factor. We are seeing an upswing in skin cancers. We're seeing an upswing in cataract and macular degeneration at earlier ages," said Douglas Ripkin, M.D. of the Ripkin Vision and Laser Center.

So which priced glasses offered the best protection? All the expensive and mid-priced pairs checked out fine, but what about the pair for a buck?

"We can simply place this under the UV spectrometer and look at the UV spectrum. It blocks out 100 percent of the UV light. Here's an inexpensive pair of glasses that you might not think are safe that actually is," Ripkin explained.

In our test, price didn't matter which will keep those eyes shining bright even if you're on a tight budget.

If you don't wear sunglasses, you may want to think twice. The sun's powerful rays can burn your eyes. It happened to Anderson Cooper recently. So, make sure you grab those shades on sunny and shady days.

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