Festival Safety: Protecting Your Eyes
Protecting Your Eyes
for many of us, are considered a fashion accessory. During Grand Kadooment, persons will surely don shades to glamorise their outfits and costumes. However, sunglasses do not just enhance our overall appearance. Finding and wearing the right kind of shades can help protect our eyes, one of the most vulnerable parts of our bodies, from the sun’s harmful rays.
According to the National Eye
Institute (NEI) and the American Optometric Association (AOA), the sun’s adverse effects on the eyes can include:
• Cataracts – the cloudiness over the eye’s lens that causes blurred vision;
• Photokeratitis – known as a “sunburn of the eye” that can cause red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tears, and extreme sensitivity to light;
• Macular degeneration – caused by damage to the retina;
• Astigmatism – caused by pterygium, a growth of tissue over the white part of the eye’s surface; and
• Cancer of the eye, the eyelids, or the skin around the eye.
Wearing an appropriate pair of sunglasses can go a long way towards protecting your eyes from these and other painful or chronic eye problems caused by the sun’s rays. Experts recommend that you use sunglasses that block out 99 per cent or 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays. They should also block out between 75 to 90 per cent of visible light while still allowing you to see well.
For adequate protection, you have to find the right fit. The AOA recommends frames that fit “close to your eyes and contour to the shape of your face.” They also suggest that you inspect the glasses for any imperfections, distortions, or lack of uniformity between the two lenses.
The tint of the sunglasses’ lenses is also important to how much protection the glasses will offer you. A darker tint does not always mean that the glasses block either one or both types of UV rays. In addition, despite their popularity, lenses with a gradient tint are not the best option. The tint on the lenses should be a uniform colour.
The AOA recommends a grey tint for optimal protection and visibility.
Experts also recommend that children get fitted for sunglasses. Compared to adults, children’s retinas are not as capable of blocking UV rays, which makes them more susceptible to its harmful effects. When choosing glasses for a child, you should look for a pair that is impact-resistant, sturdy, flexible, large, and close-fitting. You can also look for a pair that has spring hinges and an elastic band.
To help you choose the best pair of sunglasses for you or your child’s eyes, ask your optometrist for recommendations. You can also ask about other options, such as tinted glasses or glasses that transition from transparent to tinted lenses in sunlight.
As Caribbean people, sunshine is a perpetual part of our lives. In Barbados, our “eternal summer” means that we experience over 3 000 hours of sunlight each year. Ensuring that we protect our eyes should be an integral part of our daily routines. On Kadooment day, when persons spend hours standing or revelling in the sun, eye protection is crucial.
Keep this article on hand, read labels, speak to your optometrist, and make an informed decision when purchasing your next pair of sunglasses.
Here’s to the best summer of your life!