While wearing sunglasses may seem nothing more than a trendy
fashion statement, they can literally save your eyesight and protect your eyes
from damage and even cancer.
But not any old pair of sunnies will do; just as you wouldn’t
wear plain aqueous cream to shield your skin from the sun, you need to do some
homework before you invest in a pair of sunglasses that will provide sufficient
protection for your eyes.
Milli Duncker, Oakley Product Specialist for Luxottica South
Africa explains that "prolonged exposure to UV can cause both long term and
short term problems, including cataracts, a few types of eye cancer, as well as photokeratitis, also known as Arc Eye (the burning of the cornea)".
How to choose sunglasses
One of the things you should look for in sunglasses is
whether they’re polarised or not. Duncker says that the benefit of polarised
sunglasses is that they have a layer in the lens that blocks out glare which
bounces off surfaces such as water, cars and the road. The result is a
reduction in potentially dangerous glare.
In order to make sure that the glasses you’re buying,
whether polarised or not, genuinely do block out 100% UV, you should purchase your
sunglasses from a reputable retailer or optometrist.
How do you know if your glasses are the real deal? "Check
the packaging of the sunglasses or speak to the shop assistant to
make sure that the sunglasses offer 100% UVA (ageing) UVB (burn) and UVC
(cancer) protection, as well as block out harmful blue light up to 400nm,"
And good sunglasses need not break the bank, says Duncker,
adding that certain branded sunglasses often offer an "access range" which have
lower price points and are more affordable.
Most eye care professionals recommend wearing sunglasses
whenever you are subjected to ultraviolet radiation (UV) to protect your
eyesight, as UV and Blue Light can cause several serious eye conditions which
Duncker explains that while all types of UV and Blue Light
are bad for your eyes, bright glare is one of the worst, as it not only
damages your eyes, but can cause temporary blindness. It happens, for example, when you are
driving your car and are blinded for a few minutes when you hit
the wrong angle, or if you spend the day at the beach with the light bouncing
off the sea. If you are not wearing UV protection on your eyes, it can cause
some serious discomfort as well as damage to your eyes.