In the summer months hardly a day goes by without a warning that the sun can cause life-threatening damage to the skin unless precautions are taken.
Advice on sun protection creams and oils, how long to stay in the sun and what to wear to avoid sun burn are featured in the daily press, in magazines, in ads, and frequent appearances by medical and beauty pundits on TV with dire warnings have become the norm.
Sadly it is rarely mentioned that the effects of the sun on the eyes can be just as devastating.
As a consequence too many people neglect to safeguard their sight while ensuring that their skin is protected against the harmful rays of the sun.
For instance, far too many look upon sunglasses as a fashion accessory.
Take a visit to any seaside resort and there will be endless opportunities to buy attractive sunglasses at ridiculously low prices from vendors working the beaches or novelty retailers.
Yes, you can get a pair that really suit and make you look fabulous, and lets face it sun glasses are an accessory that are easily lost or mislaid so why spend $100 or more when you can get a great look for so much less.
Of course the catch is that the lenses do not provide adequate protection for the eyes against the same UV rays emitted by the sun that damage the skin.
The cost of manufacturing lenses that meet or exceed the minimum safety standards is a major factor in the cost of sunglasses.
When selecting sunglasses off the shelf look for a minimum of UV400 marked on the lenses, also that they are CE compliant, this means that have passed approved safety standards and that they are effective in reducing harmful UV rays from entering the eyes.
Note that UV400 is the minimum safety standard.
It is so important to invest in good quality sunglasses with good UV filters that can block 99-100% of UV radiation, if you do not you run a very real risk of permanent damage leading to blindness.
There are two types of UV radiation
- UV-A that penetrates deep into the eye
- UV-B that tends to damage the cornea and lens.
Excessive unprotected exposure to these rays can lead to Age Related Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of blindness world wide, cataracts, skin cancer in the tissue surrounding the eyes and tissue growth that can block vision (pterygium).
The lens color is another important consideration, choose from a brown, grey or green tint, the darker the shade the more protection you will get, CE Cat (egory) 2 is OK for most climates, CE Cat 4 is illegal for driving in some countries as it is thought to be too dark for safety.
Avoid tints in yellow, pink, or blue as, although fun and fashionable, they are not capable of fully protecting the eyes and can be confusing in recognizing colors, drivers take note!
Obviously if you wear prescription lenses your optical advisor will be helpful.
If you are lucky enough to have good eyesight make sure it stays that way and take sensible precautions.