Research suggests that the harmful UVA and UVB rays contained in sunlight may be a factor in a number of eye diseases, in particular cataracts.
UVA and UVB rays are invisible rays contained in sunlight. Because eyes rely on light to work properly, UVA and UVB rays also enter the eyes. Much of the UV light is absorbed by the structures of the eye without any damage. However, it has been shown that high exposure to UVA and UVB are risk factors for the development of cataracts.
Protect against damage
The best way to protect against this damage is to use a UV filter that stops most of the harmful rays of the sun from entering the eyes. Most prescription glasses now have a built-in UV filter. Many brands of contact lenses now also have UV filters.
When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that have the “CE” Mark or British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013, which ensures that the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.
A common misconception about sunglasses is that the darker lens, the more protection they offer.
There are a variety of tints available for sunglasses, so you can choose one to suit you.
If you are out in the sun for long periods, you may want to consider wraparound sunglasses for greater protection. And don’t forget – a wide-brimmed hat offers great protection too.
In the UK, on a day to day basis, UV exposure is very small. However, people who spend lots of time outdoors may need protection. The UV exposure is also much higher where there are more reflective surfaces, for example near water.