How much thought have you given to your sunglasses? They may suit your face shape and look fantastic, but as well as being a fashion accessory, are they functional and protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun?
The sun is a primary source of radiation. While some get absorbed by our atmosphere, there are two types of UV light – UVA and UVB – which can reach us. Most people are familiar with the damage that UV light can do to their skin, but many are blissfully unaware of the damage that it could be causing to their eyes.
Protective sunglasses are the most effective way of keeping our eyes safe from UV light, but not all sunglasses are created equal. In fact, some will offer no protection to your eyes whatsoever. To help you to understand what to look for, here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about UV protection and sunglasses.
Both long and short-term exposure to UV light has been shown to be harmful to eyes and vision. In fact, UV damage can increase your risk of experiencing a number of different eye conditions that have the potential to cause significant, and even permanent, vision loss. These conditions include:
- Cataracts: the clouding of the natural lens of the eye caused by changes to the proteins found within them.
- Photokeratitis: also known as corneal sunburn, this painful condition occurs as a result of short-term exposure to UV light and is particularly common in people who spend time on the snow or water, since these reflective surfaces cause extreme UV.
- Macular degeneration: a leading cause of age-related blindness and is a result of changes to the part of the eye called the macula.
- Skin cancer: affecting the skin around the eyes.
In addition to ensuring that the lenses you choose block 100% of UV light, you should also give some thought to the style of sunglasses that you choose. This is because some offer better protection against UV damage than others. For example, thin, metal frames with small lenses will almost certainly let in a great deal of UV light above, below, and around the sides of the lenses. Meanwhile, oversized lenses, thick-chunkier frames, close-fitting, and wraparound styles offer far less opportunity for light to get into the gaps around the lenses, giving your eyes greater protection.
One of the biggest misconceptions about sunglasses is that the darker the lenses are, the more effective they are at blocking out harmful UV rays. However, this isn’t the case. While they decrease the amount of visible light that passes through the lenses, they don’t necessarily provide more protection for your eyes.
Many adults wear sunglasses, but while they cover their children in sunscreen, they often overlook the fact that children need and benefit from 100% UV blocking lenses too. UV damage is cumulative over a person’s lifetime, which means that you should make sure that you start protecting your child’s eyes as soon as possible.
If you would like more advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert eyecare team today.