Importance of Eyewear


In the summer we’re constantly reminded to guard our bodies from the damaging rays of the sun, especially when we head out on the water for some fishing.

Julie McQueen favors large-lens sunglasses, a hat, and face mask to protect against sun exposure and flying objects. Plus, she says, they reduce eye strain and make fishing more fun.

Many of us travel with enough sunblock for a straight month of fishing, and clothing with UV protection built in. What we might overlook, however, is one of the most important parts of our bodies: our eyes. Just like other body parts, our eyes are sensitive to the sun and can burn enough to cause long-term damage.

Let’s talk about some ways to protect our eyes and face from damage this summer.

Did you know?

  • If your eyes feel itchy, gritty or painful after being outside, it’s possible that you have either sunburned corneas or “snow blindness.” Snow is not necessary for snow blindness. In fact, it’s common after being on the water or outdoors without sunglasses. The cornea of your eye can burn just like your skin, and long-term effects can be damaging.
  • The symptoms typically resolve themselves within one to three days, but take precautions if you feel you have burned your corneas. Remove contact lenses, keep eyes moisturized and wear sunglasses any time you are in daylight (indoors or outdoors) until your eyes heal.
  • To prevent burning your eyes, take precautions to avoid direct sunlight exposure, especially if you will be spending time on the water or snow. Large sunglasses are better for keeping harmful UV rays away from your eyes, and wear a hat when you can. If you feel like your eyes are burning, go indoors as soon as possible.
  • Some sunglasses are proven to be more effective at protecting your eyes than others. Check to confirm that they are UV-coated and polarized. Some sunglasses are more expensive, but purchasing a quality pair can save your eyes if you plan on spending an extended amount of time outdoors.

Another thing to remember is glare from snow or water that reflects up on your face. Buffs, or baklavas, have become popular in recent years to protect your face from sun damage and they also greatly reduce the glare that hits your eyes.

When fishing, I always have a good pair of polarized, UV-coated sunglasses and a buff to put over my face. It has saved me from too much sun exposure and burns on many occasions.

For fishing, I always recommend polarized sunglasses to help you see through the glare of the water. There are specific polarized lenses made for deep water and shallow water, and depending on where you are fishing, both can be valuable. I have personally tried the deep-water and shallow- water lenses, and they work well for me. The polarization works so well that we even use polarized lenses for our cameras when we film fishing episodes so that viewers can see the fish through the surface of the water more clearly.

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Another reason to wear sunglasses while fishing is to protect your eyes and face from an accident. When multiple people are fishing in one area, there can be hooks flying around and rods pointed in different directions. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. If a hook or fishing rod comes close to your eyes, you’ll be glad that you have glasses on to protect you from serious (and painful) injury. For the same reasons we wear safety glasses when shooting guns or doing any activity featuring random flying objects or weapons, it’s a great idea to protect your eyes while fishing.

Accessorize your eyes
When I fly fish, I wear sunglasses that are not only polarized, but ones that have a built-in magnifier at the bottom of the lens to help me tie on flies and finish knots. Just that little bit of magnification has made a big difference for me, and I keep those particular glasses in my fly box so they are always at hand.

Another accessory that will help you enjoy time on the water is a set of side bumpers that fit over or under the side of the eyeglasses. Side bumpers keep even more glare from finding its way into your eyes; you see more clearly with less eyestrain. Even a small amount of glare or light hitting the eyes can burn or strain them. If you’re not forced to squint, you’ll notice the difference after a long day on the water.

While we’re on the topic of accessories, we also use GRAPLRZ to hold our sunglasses on while we fish. Two years ago in Boca Grande while filming Daniel as he battled a huge tarpon, I took my sunglasses off and put them on my seat up in the boat tower. I wanted to see the camera’s viewfinder more clearly. The plan was to remove my glasses for just a few seconds. But fate being what it is, we pretty much instantly hit a wave and the sunglasses went sailing into Boca Grande Pass. Unfortunately for my husband, I had borrowed a pair of his glasses that morning. He watched them execute a perfect triple-twisting dive into the beautiful blue water. Now, I am required to either wear my own sunglasses at all times or use retainers to keep my glasses from falling off.

Many sunglass makers offer solid warranties on their products. I recommend that you try some on to see what fits best on your face. Every person will have a different preference on what feels and fits best, and it’s an investment that deserves some research. The important thing is that you find a pair, or a few, that fit your lifestyle and that you’ll enjoy wearing enough that you’ll keep them with you.

And refrain from dropping them into the ocean.

Send Julie your outdoors-specific exercise and nutrition questions, at any of our social media pages. Like us at,, and follow our Instagram feeds @mwoutdoor and @julesmcqueen. “Fitness for the Field” is peer-reviewed by trainers and nutritionists at
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