Australia is said to have the highest summer UV and skin cancer levels in the world. This is due to our close proximity to the equator and other factors. Even in winter our UV levels can still be very high. High levels of UV can damage our skin but also can cause severe eye problems such as Pteriygums, Cataracts and retinal damage.
If you are planning a day outdoors remember to check the Daily UV Index so you can select the best protection for skin and eyes.
UV and your Eyes
Before venturing outdoors you can check the Bureau of Meteorology’s UV index forecast. You should also download the SunSmart App for iPhone or Android (provided by SunSmart Victoria). This allows you to check UV levels across the country and alerts warning of high UV levels. Try to stay out of the sun on high risk days and/or wear high protection sunglasses and use other sun smart measures such as UV-protective clothing, lip balm, hats and sunscreen, which is now available in SPF50+ for best sun protection.
According to Cancer Council Australia, every year more than 300 Australians are diagnosed with eye and conjunctival cancers. The more you expose your eyes to the sun without proper protection, the more ‘layers’ of UVR damage occurs leading to a higher of developing problems including:
- Increased sensitivity to strong light
- Photokeratitis (sunburn of the cornea)
- Pterygium (a growth on the eye membrane over the conjunctiva and cornea)
- Cataracts (clouding of the eye lens, a leading cause of vision impairment)
- Cancer of the eyelids (skin cancer)
- Ocular melanoma
- Conjunctival cancer (the membrane over the whites of the eye)
- Retinal problems – UVR is thought to increase the risk of developing Age-related macular degeneration. ( A leading cause of blindness in Australia).
Tips for Selecting UV-safe sunglass
- Ensure your sunglasses are labelled ‘sunglasses’ and not ‘fashion spectacles’ – check the label for AS/NZS 1067:2003 Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacle..
- Close-fitting, offering good eye coverage or with wraparound arms and curved lenses minimise UVR exposure.
- Check the label must advise the new sunglasses offer 100% UV protection.
- If you plan to use your sunglasses when driving – avoid sunglasses with labels stating: ‘must not be used for driving’ This means the lenses do not have a neutral tint and can impede your ability to identify colours – traffic lights in particular!
- Grey or brown lens colours are usually the best for natural colour perception. Orange and yellow increase contrast and depth perception but will distort your colour perception.
- Polarised lenses are best for reducing high levels of glare of reflective surfaces. And are useful for beach, snow and water sports. They also offer excellent clarity of vision for reducing glare when driving.
Sunglass Lens Categories
Under AS/NZS 1067:2003, sunglasses and fashion spectacles are classified as one of the following:
Lens category 1: Fashion spectacles
Only provide limited sun glare reduction and UV protection. Note: even though they have a very light tint - a category 1 lenses are not suitable for driving at night.
Lens category 2: Sunglasses
These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection.
Lens category 3: Sunglasses
Similar to category 2, these sunglasses provide a good level of UV protection. Lens category 3 glasses also provide a high level of sun glare reduction.
Lens category 4: Sunglasses
These are special-purpose sunglasses that provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. Never wear them while driving.
Look for a lens category of at least 2 or preferably 3.
Sunglass specials at Sparks & Feros
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