With holiday season nearly upon us, most of us will be taking the chance to get out from behind our desks (be it school, home or work!) to enjoy summer activities with friends and family. While most Australians are aware of how to protect themselves from sunburn while outdoors, statistics show that very few of us take adequate steps to protect our eyes from harmful light rays – a critical part of sun safety, especially for children.
UV (Ultra-Violet) and HEV (High-Energy Visible or Blue Light) are rays emitted by the sun which are linked to eye damage and long term ocular health implications. UV and HEV rays can penetrate the unprotected eye to reach the retina, and have been linked to the development of cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygia.
Luckily, protection from UV and HEV rays is available in the form of quality sunglasses which block 100% of UV and most HEV rays. The best time to start protecting your eyes is in childhood, as the risk of eye damage increases with the level of exposure to these rays over our lifetime. This is why it is critical that children wear adequate eye protection while outside and while traveling – being wraparound style frames with 100% UV blocking lenses.
It is also important to note that UV exposure risks are not limited to sunny days. Overcast days can also have high UV exposure levels as clouds do not block the passage of these rays on their way to Earth’s surface.
Not all sunglasses are created equal when it comes to protection from UV and HEV rays. Many fashion frames and lenses do not provide adequate surface area coverage or UV protection for your eyes. We encourage our patients to talk to us about sun safety as part of their regular eye exams or drop in to see our optometrist at our Norwest practice where we can assess your existing sunglasses and provide advice and assistance to maximise the protection of your eyes this summer.
Taking a few simple steps can protect the eyes of yourself and your family and help you to experience a lifetime of healthy vision and enjoyment of the outdoors!