Sunglasses, UV, and Your Vision

Sunglasses are the perfect summer accessory. We love statement sunnies that complete an outfit, but do you know if your sunnies are actually protecting your eyes from UV damage? Sunglasses are equally important to sunscreen when it comes to protecting yourself from sun damage.

New research from Optometry Australia reveals that more than one-third (36%) of Aussies don’t own a pair of protective sunglasses and 8% aren’t even sure if their sunglasses are UV protective at all.

Why you need UV protective sunglasses

Cataracts occur when the eyes’ lenses, which are normally clear, become clouded causing blurry vision. Cataracts form slowly over time but can be made worse by chronic exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
A pterygium is a fleshy benign growth on the white section of the eye; it can become irritated and affect vision depending on location. The more UV exposure you receive over time, the higher your risk of developing a pterygium.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD occurs when damage to the retina affects and destroys central vision. Research has shown that UV exposure may contribute to the development of macular degeneration.
Skin cancers, usually basal cell carcinomas, can occur around the eye, on the eyelid margin, or conjunctiva as a direct result of UV exposure. Additionally, melanoma in the eyeball itself can occur due to overexposure to sunlight and UV.


How to tell if your sunglasses are protective

In Australia, sunglasses must meet a mandatory standard, and so are into 5 different categories of UV protection.

Category 0 & 1
These are classified as fashion glasses and provide little to no protection against UV rays. We do not recommend this classification of lenses in your sunnies.
Category 2 & 3
These lenses are classified as medium and high protection respectively and are recommended for everyday wear. We tend to sell mainly category 3 lenses in-store at Beckenham Optometrist, to optimise patient comfort and UV safety!
Category 4
These sunglasses provide very high protection. The lenses are best for people with very light-sensitive vision, or for use in scenarios where extreme UV conditions are expected such as skiing and mountain climbing.
Polarised Lenses
Polarisation is a process whereby a chemical coating is applied to sunglass lenses and is generally reserved for lenses that are category 2 or higher. This coating filters out horizontal light from surfaces such as water, glass, asphalt, and snow; they are designed to filter glare and increase clarity of vision for the wearer. Perfect for summer days at the beach or on the water and winter ones in the snow!


If you’d like more advice on the perfect pair of sunnies for you or would like to learn more about how UV is affecting your vision, book an appointment now!

We have a wide range of sunnies waiting for you!


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