Sunglasses are an underrated piece of eyewear, but they’re critical to maintaining good eye health. The right pair of sunglasses isn’t just stylish; they can protect your eyes from potential sun damage. If you’re ready to purchase a new pair of sunglasses, you may have wondered if sunglasses can be covered by your insurance.
While it depends on your individual plan and coverage, most insurance plans will cover prescription sunglasses but not non-prescription sunglasses. Your insurance often won’t cover contact lenses, glasses, or sunglasses without vision correction.
When you have your annual eye exam at Focus West Optometry, our opticians can help you find the right frames and lens coatings to protect your eyes from the harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays and restore visual clarity.
UV Rays & Your Eyes
You know the sun’s rays can inflict damage on your skin, but the harm they can do to your eyes is generally less well-known. UVA and UVB rays can alter the eye’s cell structure and cause burns, damaging your vision or the skin around the eye.
UVA rays can reach the back of the eye, causing harm to the macula, a part of the retina which allows you to see fine details, while the front of the eye, the cornea and lens, can absorb a large amount of UVB rays.
Beyond discomfort, UV rays can have adverse effects on your eyes and prolonged, chronic direct exposure to the sun can lead to severe ocular conditions.
Cataracts are often associated with aging, but UVB rays hitting your eyes unobstructed can accelerate the development of cataracts, clouding and blurring your vision. They’re irreversible, and cataract surgery is the only way to improve vision. Otherwise, cataracts can affect your ability to see in low-light settings or at night.
Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses can help prevent premature cataract development and protect your eyes from other eye diseases.
If your eyes are exposed to high levels of sunlight, often without protection, you can be at a higher risk of macular degeneration. Typically, macular degeneration is age-related, and the breakdown of the macula at the back of the eye can lead to vision loss. Sunglasses can help prevent macular degeneration related to UV exposure.
Photokeratitis is similar to a sunburn on your eyes, primarily affecting the cornea and conjunctiva. Whether you spend time near the water, in snowy conditions, or in the city, the sun reflects off nearby surfaces. It enters your eye, causing discomfort, blurry vision, swelling, redness, and other symptoms.
UV-protection sunglasses shield the eyes from reflected light, acting as a sunblock to your eyes.
Sunglasses vs. Prescription Sunglasses
Sunglasses are available in non-prescription and prescription lenses. Without a prescription, the lenses have no corrective power and are simply UV-blocking. However, you can also get prescription lenses to personalize your sunglasses.
Whether you choose a prescription pair or not, the fit of your sunglasses matters, and our team can help you find frames to suit your lifestyle and lenses to protect your eyes and correct your vision.
Does Insurance Cover Sunglasses?
If you choose prescription sunglasses, most insurance companies offer some coverage because they’re medical devices that correct your vision. Non-prescription sunglasses often aren’t covered through insurance, which is something to consider when selecting your shades.
What to Look for in Sunglasses
Sunglasses are a fashionable accessory, and while choosing your favorite frames can make you feel confident, the lenses matter too. Here are some things to consider when choosing lenses:
- 100% UV protection or 400nm UV absorption are the only lenses that will fully protect your eyes from harsh sun rays.
- A darker tint doesn’t always mean the UV protection is higher.
- Coloured lenses don’t affect UV protection; however, if you’re shopping for UV-blocking eyewear for sports, different hues can offer contrast that can help improve vision in some circumstances.
- Wrap-around shades can help block UV rays that enter the eye through the periphery, and larger frames that cover more of the face and eyes offer more protection than smaller lenses.
Block Harsh UV Rays from Entering Your Eyes
Sunglasses are just as crucial for your eye health as vision-correcting eyewear. Talk to Focus West Optometry’s knowledgeable team about sunglasses, and let us help you craft shades suited to your lifestyle. Our experienced team can help you find the best tints, coatings, and frames for your sport, workday, weekends, and driving.
Schedule an eye exam at Focus West Optometry to try different sunglass options and discuss your insurance coverage. We’re here to help!