Protect your eyes – how to choose the right sunglasses this summer

How sunglasses can help protect your eyes

Ultra-violet light (UV) exposure is equally damaging to the eyes as it is to the skin and wearing sunglasses can help prevent eyesight problems, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in later life. Despite this more than a quarter of adults don’t wear shades, and only 58% of wearers make their children wear glasses too.

In a survey The Vision Council polled 10,000 adults from across the US. They found that a mere 1 in 6 people wore sunglasses to protect their eyes. Two-thirds stated that they wore glasses to prevent glare.

Furthermore, researchers found that nearly half of people forget to wear sunglasses, about 14% lost or broke their glasses, and around 20% of people didn’t believe their eyes to be at risk from sun exposure.

Rhinestone shades and cheap sunglasses

As the first line of defence against sun exposure it is important to choose the correct sunglasses. Unfortunately that cheap pair you thought were a bargain may not make the grade, especially if you’ve got holiday plans in a beautifully sunny destination.

What should you be looking for when buying a pair of sunglasses?

  • UV protection – it is a myth that the darker the lenses the less UV they allow in. Look for an official mark or ask a shop assistant if the sunglasses offer UV protection. The best will block 100% of UV-A, UV-B, and harmful blue light.
  • Light reduction – buy a pair offering up to 80%. They will only allow in 20% of sunlight which is enough to be able to see comfortably.
  • High-contrast lenses – these will allow the eye to function normally without the dulling effects of most other lenses, helping the wearer see things more naturally.
  • Polarised lenses – particularly if you are engaging if you’re driving or enjoying your summer by the water as they are very effective at preventing glare.
  • Wraparound styles – to help keep out peripheral glare.

Another sign of protective shades is to look for the CE mark. This mark ensures that the sunglasses meet EU standards, meaning that they will be of high optical quality, provide a good defence against UV light, and have break-resistant lenses.

Don’t look back into the sun

While wearing sunglasses it is important to remember that you are not invincible! It is highly important that you never look directly into the sun, and that you take further precautionary measures such as monitoring your exposure to direct sunlight, wearing a hat, and resting in the shade between bright periods.

It is also very important that your children protect their eyes also, and a person is never too young to wear sunglasses.

Additionally you should take some time out this summer to visit your optometrist. AMD is a condition that can develop rapidly and lead to blindness with few clear warning signs. By having an appointment at a practice with an MPS II macular pigment reader your doctor will be able to offer you an accurate pigment reading with a couple of minutes, leaving you more time to enjoy the sunshine.

More information

Want to learn more about AMD and how to detect it? Visit the website for the RNIB and their Spot the Signs campaign.

Find out more about the MPS II.

[Picture credit: NHS]

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