Updated: August 31, 2021
Many redheads have light colored eyes, either a lighter shade of brown, blue or green. Red hair and blue eyes is in fact the rarest combination in the world. The more pigment you have, the darker your eyes will be. Blue, gray, and green eyes are lighter because they have less melanin in the iris. Besides giving our eyes color, melanin helps protect them from the sun. Because they have less pigment, light eyes are much more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays than brown or black eyes.
We spoke with Dr. Farooq Ashraf of the Atlanta Vision Institute to give redheads the best advice for protecting light colored eyes. “People with light eyes are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration where the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye actually die off, leading to vision loss,” says Ashraf. “The best way to protect the eyes, regardless of color, is to wear sunglasses that have polarized lenses and are rated for both UVA and UVB protection when outdoors.”
Here are the top reasons why it’s essential to rock sunglasses this summer:
1. Importance of Sunglasses:
“For people with light-colored eyes, it’s important to wear sunglasses while outdoors. If they frequently experience lasting symptoms of photophobia — feeling like they constantly need to squint, cover or close their eyes, or experience discomfort, pain, burning or excessive tearing or even frequent headaches and migraines — they should see an ophthalmologist or eye doctor to identify and treat any possible underlying conditions or infection and come up with solutions to prevent photophobia.”
2. Protect Eyes from UVA Rays:
“Sunlight can harm the eyes in many ways. Sunlight consists of two different kinds of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. The latter are what cause sunburns when people are exposed to the sun without protection for prolonged periods of time. UVA rays, however, actually account for about 95% of all the ultraviolet rays that reach us on the Earth’s surface and these rays are more powerful and cause more lasting damage. UVA rays can penetrate cloud cover and glass, which is why wearing sunglasses and sunscreen on is important even on cloudy days. UVA rays may also cause certain cancers including cancers of the eye.”
3. Your Eyes Can Sunburn:
“Photokeratitis, commonly referred to as ‘snow blindness,’ is essentially a sunburn directly on the cornea (the outermost layer of the eye). It often occurs during winter sports like skiing because the snow reflects UV rays into the eyes. This can also affect individuals who use tanning beds without protective goggles, and can occur during the summer when people are out on a lake or the ocean and the surface of the water reflects sunlight. Symptoms don’t appear right away and, unfortunately, individuals with lighter colored eyes are more at risk because their eyes will actually let in more of the UV rays. To avoid photokeratitis, wear sunglasses or protective goggles.”
Rock it like a Redhead!