Eye health: Specsavers optometrist warns against misuse of sunglasses

A new study has revealed the risks of wearing sunglasses incorrectly and that wearing them indoors does not improve vision.

Sunglasses come in all shapes, colors and sizes, from cat-eye pinks to oversized sports frames. But not all fashion lenses protect our eyesight.

New research from Columbia University identified the main consequences of improper wearing of sunglasses and the danger of UV radiation to the eyes.

And as trendy sunglasses rise in popularity, ophthalmologists and optometrists fear that Australians are buying sunglasses for “the look” rather than their level of UV protection.

For example, glasses that sit on a person’s nose do not provide full coverage, exposing the wearer to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can increase the risk of developing harmful eye conditions.

In addition, wearing tinted sunglasses indoors can have side effects such as eye fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light.

There’s more to consider when shopping for a pair of sunglasses than finding a design you like, so here are a few tips that can help you choose your next pair of sunglasses.

Understanding the harmful effects of UV radiation

UV radiation is a natural energy produced by the sun, but just five minutes of exposure can lead to permanent eye damage and harmful skin conditions.

Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, eyelid cancers, and damage to the cornea and conjunctiva are all conditions that can result from overexposure to UV radiation.

Ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Dr. Alina Zeldovich told news.com.au that 80% of UV eye damage occurred in childhood.

“This is a silent UV epidemic affecting children,” she said. “Children are a particularly vulnerable group that needs to be protected with proper sunglasses.”

Also, people with blue, brown, and green eyes are more susceptible to UV radiation because they have less pigment to protect them compared to people with dark eyes.

According to the Cancer Council SunSmart CampaignAustralia has one of the highest UV levels in the world due to the country’s proximity to the equator, clearer skies and less pollution.

Because of this, Specsavers’ Head of Professional Optometry Services Dr. Jo Paul said it’s important for Australians to protect themselves from the sun any time they’re outside.

“It is very important that we protect ourselves outdoors, not only in well-known places with high levels of sun exposure, such as the beach, but also during those more casual periods in the sun, such as when receiving mail, waiting for the bus, or walking the dog. . “, he told news.com.au.

The World Health Organization (WHO) measures UV levels on a scale from 0, which is considered “low”, to extreme levels of 11 plus. Global Solar UV Index. When levels are three or higher, sun protection is recommended.

You can track daily UV levels on the free SunSmart app and on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

When you can (and can’t) wear sunglasses

While sunglasses are critical to protecting your eyes during the summer, keeping a pair on hand during the winter months is just as important.

Skin cancer detection organization Molemap said up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can be filtered through the densest cloud cover, meaning that sun protection is still critical on an overcast day.

“If you’re frequently in areas with intense UV radiation, such as glare reflected off snow, the ocean, or even concrete, protecting your eyes is even more important,” said Dr. Paul.

“Overexposure to these activities can burn the anterior surface of your eye, similar to how your skin reacts to sunburn when exposed to strong sun without protection.”

Meanwhile, for those wondering if it is appropriate to wear sunglasses indoors, it is recommended that only people with certain medical conditions use sunglasses indoors.

“When you’re indoors and in poor light, your pupil dilates, letting more light into your eye and therefore improving contrast sensitivity and vision,” Dr. Zeldovich said.

“So when you wear dark sunglasses, it happens less often and worsens your vision.”

Alternatively, wearing sunglasses at night is not recommended as it will impair the quality of your vision.

Dr. Zeldovich also strongly recommends against driving with dark glasses in the evening and said there will be a warning in the appropriate Australian standard category 3 glasses not to use at night for this purpose.

What to look for when buying glasses

While you can buy sunglasses almost anywhere, you need to be wary of fakes that don’t meet Australian standards.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) recommends wearing snug-fitting wraparound sunglasses that conform to category two, three or four of the Australian Standards.

Dr. Paul recommends buying frames from an optometrist who has several designer brands or from a reputable retailer.

“For the best protection, wear sunglasses with polarized lenses as they provide superior vision in bright light, eliminating 99.9% of horizontal glare and also provide 100% UV protection,” he said.

It’s also a good idea to get frames that fit your face, not only because they will complement your face structure, but also to ensure that unwanted UV light is properly blocked.

“Not all sunglasses are the same, and in fact, improperly fitted sunglasses can let more UV light into your eyes due to their design,” Dr. Zeldovich said.

“What happens when you put on a pair of mismatched sunglasses or trendy sunglasses… it actually turns off your natural reflex so the eyes are fooled and relaxed.

“So you no longer squint and protect your eyes, and all that extra UV can get into your eyes.”

As a recommendation, Dr. Zeldovich said that if your sunglasses are far from your eye and you can put your finger between the lens of the glasses and the eyeball, UV light will penetrate.

If your glasses have wire frames and you find they are a little loose, or they keep slipping off your nose, you can go to most optometrists to have them adjusted, usually free of charge.

Final Sun Protection Tips

While proper sunglasses are important, there is more you can do to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

Sunscreen is critical to protecting your skin and preventing cancer, but Dr. Paul said many people don’t apply it properly to their eyelids and around the eyes.

“While the eyelid is designed to protect the eyes, the skin is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can be damaged by ultraviolet radiation, so it is important to be sure to apply sunscreen to the eyelids and reapply every two hours,” he said.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat will also provide extra cover for your eyes.

It’s also a good idea to be mindful of how much time you’ll be in the sun and look for shade if you need to be outside for an extended period of time.

Regular eye exams are critical to improving the health of your eyes, as your optometrist or ophthalmologist can address any problems or potential problems you may have in the future.

“We recommend that you get your eyes checked every two years, or every year if you’re over 65,” Dr. Paul said.

Originally published as “Silent UV epidemic”: fashionable sunglasses seriously affect eye health