Protecting our eyes from Ultra Violet rays may not be as well known or as campaigned as protecting our skin.
Built up UV radiation can lead to:
- Macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness)
- Pterygium (a fleshy growth on the eye)
- Solar keratopathy
- Skin cancer of the eyelids
Understanding the standards and picking the right sunglasses can reduce the risk of these diseases.
ESP and SPF
Eye Protection Factor is similar to Sun Protection Factor (SPF). In the realm of eyes the level we seek to protect our eyes from Ultra Violet Rays can be high or low depending on the product. Without an EPF sunglasses are only fashion. Using sunglasses rated as a EPF 9 or a 10 will block almost all UV rays.
Although there is no global standard, here in Australia, we have a mandatory labelling Australian/New Zealand Standard for Sunglasses and must carry the label AS/NZS 1067:2003. Look for this labelling and the category 2, 3 or 4 to comply with the Australian Standards for UV.
When purchasing sunglasses, be sure to buy them from a trusted Eye Care Center such as our Westfund Eye Care Centres as sunglasses labelled as fashion spectacles do not have to comply with our Australian standards.
Darker Lenses do not filter more UV rays. Although they are fashionable they can dilate the pupil and allow an unfiltered UV ray into the retina, as well and can allow a harmful blue light (400–440 nm) into the eyes. Chronic exposure to this Visual Spectrum blue light can be a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration.
When to wear them
60 per cent of Australians believe it is only the midday sun that poses the greatest UV hazard. However, before 10am and after 2pm can be a high-risk due to the angle of the sun.
Protection is recommended when the UV level is 3 and above. We understand knowing UV levels is hard, we found this Sun Smart UV widget to find your areas UV level right now.
Children’s sunglasses can be a novelty bought cheaply from many stores, however, it is recommended to steer away from toy style sunglasses as they do not comply with the Australian Standards and damage from UV radiation can build up over time.
Optometry Australia: http://www.optometry.org.au/your-eyes/your-eye-health/sun-safety/
Journal of Travel Medicine: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1708-8305.2012.00667.x/full