Sunglasses are the way to better health

couple in sunglasses

Alice Piper

Posted September 22, 2021

Summer is almost here, and the sun is intense, but it’s your eyes that need the most protection.

When warm weather strikes, all you want to do is throw on your bathers, slap on some sunscreen and enjoy that vitamin D. But in much the same way as UV radiation (both UVA and UVB rays) affects our skin, it also affects the health of our eyes as well as the delicate skin around them.

Think about it: you wouldn’t stare into the sun for long periods of time, but do you know daily activities can have the same effect and result in eye damage? Take the snow, for example, which reflects as much as 80% of UV radiation, or water such as the sea which reflects about 25% UV radiation.

Some of this eye damage can include short term issues like excessive blinking or swelling, but over time it can lead to far more serious complications like cataracts, damage to the cornea and even cancer in the eyelids and skin around the eyes.

What’s more, sun damage can occur all year round, regardless of whether the sun is in full flight, or hidden behind the clouds. That’s why it’s important to protect our eyes no matter the season.

Specsavers Optometrist Simon Kelly has a few tips to help you embrace some simple actions to make wearing sunglasses and protecting the health of your eyes a way of life (and look stylish at the same time).

woman wearing sunglasses

Four ways to protect your eyes from sun damage

Wear protective sunglasses

“Buy your glasses from a trusted professional who can guide you through the process and provide you with the right advice in terms of frames and lenses to suit your lifestyle,” says Simon.

“For the best kind of protection though, buy sunglasses that have polarised lenses as they provide superior vision in bright light by eliminating 99.9% of horizontal glare, while also providing 100% UV protection. Glasses that wrap around the face are also great to prevent rays coming in through gaps.”

Cloud cover still matters

Have you ever thought because it’s cloudy, you don’t need to put on sunscreen, yet you end up with serious sunburn? The same goes for your eyes.

“While our eyelids are designed to protect our eyes, the skin is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can be damaged by UV light, so it’s important to make sure you apply sunscreen to your eyelids and reapply it every two hours. Even five minutes of sun exposure can lead to permanent damage,” says Simon.  

Don’t forget to wear a hat

From beach hats to your everyday cap, wearing a hat to protect your head and face also helps to protect your eyes.

“Of course, any hat is better than none at all, but a broadbrimmed hat can add extra shade to your face area, and in turn add another layer of protection for your face and eyes,” says Simon.

So put a hat in the car, by the front door and in your bag this summer!

Look for a shady spot

It’s essential we seek a shady spot under a tree or shade cloth to protect our eyes and skin from sun damage, especially when the sun is most intense from the hours of 10am-4pm.

“The longer you spend outside, the higher your chance of experiencing sun damage. If you know you’ll be spending a long period outside, try to spend most of it in a shaded area. This includes activities like having a BBQ, mowing the lawn, walking the dog, sitting at a bus stop or train station, or walking to or from the car. These are all situations when you can be exposed to the sun’s harsh UV rays,” he says.

Why not gift your friends or family some new sunglasses as a Christmas present, or even as a ‘thinking of you’ lockdown gift? It's sure to brighten their day. 

Now you’re aware of how the sun and UV exposure can affect our eyes, as well as how to protect them, it’s time to get prepared for summer with some stylish and protective sunglasses – you’ll be thanking yourself years into the future for taking the time now to get your eye health right.