Did you know that your eyes are susceptible to sunburn all year round? In fact, you may be at greater risk of damaging your eyes during the cooler months. Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index revealed that over 75% of Australians don’t think that UV protective sunglasses are necessary for the winter months however this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Australia has one of the highest exposure levels of Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation in the world. UV radiation is emitted by the sun and exists in three forms:
- UVA – not absorbed by the ozone layer at all
- UVB – about 15% of UVB transmits through to the earth’s atmosphere
- UVC – absorbed by ozone and does not reach the earth’s surface
In terms of eye damage, it’s UVA and UVB rays that are concerning. 90% of UV radiation can penetrate clouds and that exposure can sometimes be made more intense due to reflections off these clouds. As the sun sits lower on the horizon in the winter months we are actually more exposed to those damaging UV rays, as they directly enter the eyes.
Another interesting fact is that UV exposure to the eyes is maximised between 8am to10am and 2pm to 4pm when the sun is lower in the sky often making these the most important times to be wearing your sunnies to protect from UV and give comfort from glare.
Eye problems arising from UV exposure
Too much winter sun without protective eyewear can potentially lead to:
- Photokeratitis – this is typically experienced by those who spend time in the snow and is often called snow blindness. The exposure to high doses of UV causes the cornea to become sunburnt.
- Cataracts – clouding of the eye leading to blurred and distorted vision
- Pterygium – typically experienced by surfers from overexposure to UV rays reflecting off the water’s surface. It results in a fleshy white-pink growth that can invade the cornea and disfigure the eye.
Sunglasses – a practical and fashionable solution
If you want to protect your eyes all year round (and you should!), simply wear a pair of quality sunglasses and in summer add a wide brim hat. If possible, look for lenses that are polarized as they offer greater protection as they cut down more reflections. All sunglasses sold in Australia must be tested and labelled according to the Australian Standards. This standard sets limits for the allowable UV transmission of sunglasses for adults and children. Your sunglasses should have a lens UV rating of at least 3. To know what the UV level is where you live, use the SunSmart app for live updates.
We offer a range of sunglasses to cater to your lifestyle needs. Whether it’s prescription sunglasses allowing you to see clearly when you’re outdoors or plano sunglasses if you’re a contact lens wearer or simply don’t require a prescription – we’ve got you covered.