Keeping Your Eyes Sun Safe

July 2017
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It is incredibly important to protect your eyes from the sun. Exposure to UV radiation can lead to cataracts – the leading cause of vision loss, and pterygium – a growth across the front of the eye. It can also lead to macular degeneration which can be visually devastating. Protecting your eyes from UV damage should be part of your daily routine.

Can you minimise your eyes’ exposure to UV radiation?

Sunglasses provide important protection for your eyes and should be worn by everyone, young and old. Children should be fitted for sunglasses because they often spend many hours in the sun and have larger pupils that let more light enter the interior of the eye.

There are some important things to consider when purchasing sunglasses.

What should you look for when choosing sunglasses?

The most important aspect of any sunglass is the lens quality.

High quality glass lenses are excellent at selectively absorbing undesirable rays and are available in fixed (solid) or photochromic (light sensitive) tints.

Resin (plastic) lenses are safer than glass as they do not shatter so easily. Often they feature a scratch-resistnat hard coating and this helps to ensure a long life.

Without such a coating they can become scratched if not properly cared for. Plastics are as optically correct as glass and are lighter in weight. Tints available include solid, graduated, polarised, or photochromic forms.

Polycarbonate lenses are stronger still and are a must for eye safety when playing sports such as cricket. They offer the ultimate in eye protection and safety and again the range of tints is extensive.

Most of the options mentioned are also available in your prescription lenses. Our optometrists can discuss the huge range of options available to ensure your requirements are met and exceeded.

What about the colour of the lenses?

Different lens colours provide differing levels of contrast and colour clarity. Talk to us for advice on the best lens colour for your individual needs.

No sunglass lens is ever dark enough to observe the sun or eclipses. Never look directly at the sun or an eclipse. This could result in your permanent loss of vision.

However, sunglasses do make it difficult to see well in poor light conditions so dark lenses should never be worn while driving at night.

What about polarised lenses?

Polarised lenses cut the reflected glare, so are especially useful for people who do water or snow-based sports / activities.

What about the frames?

Close fitting wrap-around styles offer better protection for not only the eye itself, but also for the eyelids and surrounding tissues. For certain situations wrap-around frames can be fitted with tinted prescription lenses althought these would have to be specially made and hence a little more expensive than standard options.

Plastic sunglass frames are generally strong and durable. Some plastic frames are mass-produced and as such, do not allow for individual facial differences. Consequently, they may not be adjustable. We recommend you take time to ensure plastic frames fit well particularly on your nose. Plastic frames spread out over your nose, distributing the weight, which makes them very comfortable to wear.

Metal frames are also a good option; they have more adjustable features, so it is easier to get them fitting perfectly. When choosing any frame, it is important to get the optometrists‘ help as they are trained to look for the best fit for your face.

Some optical frames are also available with close fitting magnetically attached polarised sunglass clip-ons to make ease of converting from clear sunglass lenses a matter of a small click.

Ultimately, we want you to feel good about wearing your sunglasses. Remember that sunglasses are important because they provide protection for your eyes against damaging UV radiation. We will be able to provide you with sunglasses and vision information tailored to your individual needs. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have, take your time when choosing from the range of options, and be careful in the care and maintenance of your new sunglasses.

If you do these things, you should feel safe in the knowledge that you are protecting your eyes in the best possible way.


Clare Coventry

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