While the risks of skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure may be well known by now, there has not been as much of a focus on the damage that the sun can cause your eyes, but this too can have devastating effects. From cataracts to macular degeneration to photokeratisis, all of these issues can be avoided by using appropriate eyewear that provides both UVA and UVB protection.

Glasses and Contact Lenses
If you have recently purchased a pair of glasses, then chances are that the lenses contain a UV filter, which blocks out most of the harmful rays from the sun, preventing them from damaging the eyes. If you are unsure about whether your lenses contain this, it is worth checking with your optician for confirmation. Similarly, the majority of contact lenses on the market will also contain a UV filter, but a quick check on the brand that you use will let you know for sure.

Woman wearing sunglasses

When purchasing sunglasses, it is absolutely essential that they state that they are able to protect 100% from both UVA and UVB rays. Some brands may list the specific level of UV protection that each pair provides, and if so, a minimum of UV 400 is what you need to look out for, as this covers the entire UV spectrum. Contrary to popular belief, the darkness of the tint on a pair of sunglasses has no impact at all on its level of UV protection, and there are lighter tints that can provide even more protection than a fully dark pair. When purchasing sunglasses for UV protection, the way in which they fit is extremely important. While it may look more stylish to wear them in a certain position on your face, you need to ensure that light is not able to reach your eyes from any direction or angle, as this will then defeat the purpose of the sunglasses. The most effective style of sunglasses, as studies have confirmed, are wraparounds, as these completely prevent the sun’s rays from entering through the sides.

When to Protect Your Eyes
The amount that you need to wear eye protection depends on a number of different factors, from where you are to the time of day to your altitude. UV levels are much higher near the equator, as well as on higher altitudes and at times when the sun is at its highest point, which is usually between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm. There are also certain medications that can increase your body’s sensitivity to UV light, meaning that you need to be extra diligent about protecting your eyes. Many believe that they are less at risk on cloudy days, but this is not true, as UV rays penetrate through even the thickest cloud.

Your eyes need to be protected from the sun just as much as your skin does, but this, unfortunately, is something that many people do not realize. From ensuring that your regular eyewear contains a UV filter, to purchasing a pair of sunglasses that will protect you from even the strongest of UV rays, these simple steps will help to keep your eyes, and vision, as healthy as possible.