In contradiction to popular belief sunglasses were not invented as a fashion accessory; they were created to protect our eyes from the dangerous effects of ultraviolet sunrays. The same way that over exposure to sunlight damages the layers of our skin causing wrinkles, sunspots and cancers, sunlight can cause permanent and irreversible damage to our eyes.
Shades in the Shade
Wearing sunglasses on a daily basis, even when it is cloudy is vital in preventing permanent eye damage. UV rays can be even more powerful on cloudy days. The sunrays get trapped under the clouds and continually bounce back and forth off the thickest densest clouds, causing intensified light reflections. This is why you might catch yourself squinting on overcast days and getting sunburn.
Cataracts are one of the biggest causes of blindness worldwide. More than 20 million people around the around are estimated to have blindness due to untreated cataracts. Fortunately there are several methods of treatment that successfully remove the cataract and fully restore healthy vision. Studies have shown that more than 10% of cataract cases are directly linked to overexposure of UV rays.
Prevent Wrinkled Eyelids and Skin Cancers
The skin that makes up both our upper and lower eyelids is extremely thin. This skin is therefore more susceptible to sun damage. Most of us do not apply sunscreen to our eyelids leaving them completely vulnerable to the harsh Australian sun. If you don’t wear sunglasses or a hat when you are in the sun you dramatically increase your chances of developing deep wrinkles around the eye. Not only do you increase your chances of ageing badly but also you make this thin and fragile skin more susceptible to developing skin cancer. Some of the most common skin cancers that grow in the eyelids include; basal cell carcinomas, melanomas and squamos cell carcinomas. Early detection of skin cancers on the eyelids is very important in lowering undesired aesthetic damage during treatment.
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to sunglasses in Australia. Wether you prefer to wear your shades as a fashion statement, to hide tired eyes on the bus in the morning, have prescription sunglasses or transition lenses the most important thing is to check the UV protection level of the lens.
For us in Australia we do not need to do too much research when buying a new pair. All sunglasses sold in Australia have to comply with legal UV protection standards. For the strongest level of protection look for ‘category 4’ on the label. Other available levels of UV protection in Australia include just category 2 and 3. Each category will absorb up to 95% of UV rays instead of your precious eyes and eyelids.
It is also important to pick a pair of sunglasses that sufficiently cover the eyes and sit closely to the face avoiding sunrays getting through the gaps. A frame that follows the curvature of the head like many sports sunglasses are ideal for eye protection.