Whilst people understand the importance of protecting our skin from the sun, many underestimate the effects of the sun on our eyes. Our eyes are delicate organs, up to 10 times more sensitive to UV damage than our skin, so it is important to provide effective protection. Excessive sun exposure can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and can even lead to blindness.
Boots Optometrist, Samantha Watson, give her top tips on how to protect your eyes this summer, whether you're in the sun or shade.
1. Ensure your sunglasses have high levels of UV protection
Many popular holiday destinations have whitewashed buildings lining almost every street which increases the amount of UV around you. Not all sunglasses can effectively protect your eyes from UV rays, so here are some tips for finding the perfect stylish and safe pair of sunglasses...
• Look for both the 'CE' mark which is the European community standard and British Standard (EN ISO 12312-1:2013) on the inside arm of your sunglasses. You might also see a 100% UV protection or UV 400 label on the lenses.
• Ensure they fit well to minimise stray light entering your eyes either from the sides or the top, through the gap between your face and the lenses
• If you are confused or unsure about how effective your sunglasses are, take them to your local Opticians, who can advise you.
2. Kids' eyes need protection too
It's important to look after children's eyes. They have wider pupils and clearer lenses, so their eyes are more vulnerable to UV penetration to their retina and more exposed to potential sun damage. Up to 70% of children in the UK still don't wear sunglasses, despite generally spending more time outdoors than adults.(1) Some toy sunglasses don't provide effective protection from UV rays, and their dark lenses may cause the pupil to dilate allowing more UV light to enter the eye, so look out for the 'CE' mark on the inside arm of the sunglasses.
3. Protect your eyes even when in the shade
It's a common misconception that you only need to wear sunglasses when the sun is out. In fact, your eyes need protection all year round, as clouds may only reduce UV exposure by 10%. You should consider wearing sunglasses, especially in the morning and afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. Your brow ridge is less able to provide natural shade than when the sun is high overhead.
Even when you are in the shade, you should still consider wearing sunglasses, as UV rays can be reflected into your eyes from surfaces such as concrete and water.
Remember to protect your eyes from the sun all year round, not just in the summer. If you're jetting off skiing, pack a pair of sunglasses to wear on the slopes!
1. http://www.boots.com/opticians/prescription-sunglasses/uv-protection-myths-busters [Last Accessed: 17.05.17]