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Why do you wear sunglasses? To cut down on glare when you’re driving? To keep you from squinting outdoors? To look cool?

These are all good reasons to wear your shades, but your sunglasses are more than a fashion statement. If you spend time outdoors, you can be at risk for eye problems from UV rays and should always wear sunglasses.

But they need to be the right sunglasses.

It’s not just our skin that needs sun protection, the cornea of our eye is also at risk of UV damage. Prolonged sun exposure has been linked with increased rates of cataracts and non-melanoma skin cancer of the eye and eyelid.

No one is immune to the effects of UV radiation, but certain groups have a higher risk of eye damage from UV rays. These include people who have light-coloured blue or green eyes; people with a preexisting eye disease like retinal dystrophy or macular degeneration; people who have had cataract surgery; and those who take medication that makes their body more sensitive to light.

So how do you protect your lids?

In Australia, all sunglasses must meet a certain standard and will fall into a lens category based on their UV protection measures.

The lens category provides a rating between 0-4.

Lens category 0: Light tint sunglasses or fashion spectacles These provide very limited reduction of sun glare and some UV protection.
Lens category 1: Light tint sunglasses or fashion spectacles These provide limited protection against sun glare and some UV protection; they are not suitable for driving in at night or under dull light conditions.
Lens category 2: General purpose sunglasses These provide good protection against sun glare and good UV protection; they are suitable for driving in at night or under dull light conditions.
Lens category 3: General purpose sunglasses These provide high protection against sun glare and good UV protection; they are not suitable for driving at night or under dull light conditions.
Lens category 4: Very dark special sunglasses – very high sun glare reduction for extreme conditions and good UV protection, they are not suitable for driving

Additional tips for choosing sunglasses:

– Bigger is better⠀
– Consider sunglasses that wrap around to protect from peripheral damage⠀
– Coloured lens does not provide additional protection⠀
– Fashion glasses do not protect the eyes from glare OR UV.

UV rays pass through clouds, so don’t be fooled into thinking protective eyewear isn’t necessary when the sky is cloudy. Even though shaded areas reduce UV exposure, your eyes can still be exposed to rays that bounce from buildings, roads and other surfaces.

So whenever you’re outdoors, it makes sense to keep your eyes—and your family’s eyes—protected with a pair of good sunglasses.