Sun­glasses: look good, yes, but ac­tu­ally do good, too. Learn to pro­tect your eyes as you throw shade

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

This sum­mer’s hottest frames

The sun pops its head out and be­fore you can say, ‘Should’ve whacked on the fac­tor 30,’ you’re squint­ing in a pub gar­den up to your neck in Pimm’s and red bits. But, be­ware: over time, ex­po­sure to UV light can se­ri­ously harm your eyes, lead­ing to con­di­tions like cataracts and ocu­lar cancer. Ac­cord­ing to the Royal Na­tional In­sti­tute of Blind Peo­ple, there are over two mil­lion peo­ple in the UK with sight loss and 50% of those cases were pre­ventable with proper eye care. ‘Sun­light is a ma­jor player in things go­ing wrong with your eyes,’ ex­plains Dr Su­san Blak­eney of The Col­lege of Op­tometrists. ‘It’s also linked to age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion: the lead­ing cause of sight loss in the UK.’ glar­ing sun, and it could be this in­tense and pro­longed ex­po­sure to UV ra­di­a­tion that breaks down lev­els of pro­tec­tion. So what are the im­pli­ca­tions for those of us in the UK who have a cou­ple of weeks of sun a year on hol­i­day and, oh, maybe two more at home if we’re lucky? While there are no spe­cific guide­lines on how of­ten to splash out on a new pair, Dr Blak­eney sug­gests re­plac­ing lenses ev­ery two years if you wear your shades for an av­er­age of two hours a day. One fac­tor that could re­duce safety is sim­ple wear and tear (read: scratches), which will oc­cur each and ev­ery time you sling your shades in your tote. Even if scratches aren’t vis­i­ble to the naked eye, they could be open­ing you up to enough cu­mu­la­tive UV ex­po­sure to cause a prob­lem. ‘It all de­pends how the lenses were made,’ ex­plains Dr Blak­eney. ‘If the pro­tec­tion is a coat­ing, it can scratch off, but if the pro­tec­tion is built into the lens it­self it be­comes less of a prob­lem.’ So what other pro­tec­tion should you be look­ing for in your shades? ‘Good qual­ity sun­glasses don’t have to be ex­pen­sive – high street will do,’ says Dr Blak­eney. That said, there are some mark­ers of qual­ity you need to look out for. ‘Choose glasses car­ry­ing the CE mark to en­sure they are made to rel­e­vant safety stan­dards. In the UK, look for the BSI Kitemark la­bel with the heart-shaped logo. The code BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013 en­sures shades have been tested and are proven to of­fer a safe level of UV pro­tec­tion.’ Make a note of that code – you’ll never re­mem­ber it. Bear in mind that it’s not just dur­ing a fort­night on a beach you need pro­tec­tion. ‘Sand, wa­ter and snow all have re­flec­tive sur­faces, which can bounce dan­ger­ous lev­els of light up into your eyes – and the higher the al­ti­tude, the higher the UV in­dex,’ says Dr Blak­eney. ‘Opt for wrap­around styles where pos­si­ble and, as you’re likely to be sweaty in sum­mer or when you’re on the slopes, make sure they fit snugly over the nose and be­hind the ears. Most op­ti­cians will ad­just them for free or a small fee.’ Need a shade up­date? Turn the page…

So, throw on your trusty sun­nies and you’re good to go, right? Well, not ex­actly. A study by the Univer­sity of São Paulo found the Uv-block­ing ef­fi­cacy of shades wears off over time, and cur­rent in­dus­try tests are not enough to de­ter­mine how long sun­glasses re­main safe to wear. The re­searchers did note that many of the Brazil­ian study par­tic­i­pants wear the same pair of shades day in day out for around two years in the

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