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Health: Sunglass Protection

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- When it comes to sunglasses, fashion and price often determine which pair we choose. But 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl says protecting your eyes from sun damage should be the number one concern.

Christi Matarese is a mother of four who spends a lot of time outdoors in the sun. And like many, she used to be a fan of cheap sunglasses.

"I'd rather have a $20 pair, and if they get wrecked, I can replace them easily," Christi says. But she didn't wear them until her eyes started to bother her.

"With all the time I spent in the sun last summer, I actually got sunburned on my eyes, and you can actually see red and yellow in the whites of my eyes where it got sunburned," Christi explains.

UVA and UVB rays from the sun can cause significant damage to the eye, including skin cancers of the eyelids and eye. That's why doctors recommend everyone, including children, wear sunglasses.

But the options for eyewear are endless.

Doctors say it's important to make sure sunglasses have 100 percent UVA and UVB protection.

"Even cheaper glasses have UV protection, so you're pretty good about that," says Dr. Neil Sher, an ophthalmologist.

But experts add that most low priced glasses don't have polarized lenses, which cut out glare and reduce eye strain.

"Even though you have to pay a little extra, I think it's worth it. You don't have to pay $500, necessarily, but I would be a little wary of $10 glasses," says Dr. Sher.

Doctors say wearing sunglasses can also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, which is a major cause of vision loss.

American Academy of Ophthalmology Sunglasses Information

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