What is UV radiation?
Put simply, ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the sun’s rays. Life cannot exist on earth without them, but you can have too much of a good thing. As well as being a major cause of skin cancer, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can also damage the eyes in many ways. It comes in three types – A, B and C – all of which have to be protected against. So OPSM make sure the sunglasses they sell are as protective as they are great looking; and show you how to gain protection through prescription glasses and contact lenses too.
What damage does UV do to eyes?
UVB radiation is a major cause of cataracts and has been linked to playing a role in the development of macular degeneration. It is also thought to help cause pingueculae and pterygia, which are unsightly growths on the eye’s surface that can cause corneal problems as well as distorted vision*. Photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness, can also be caused by UVB rays. This is a painful inflammation of the cornea and is familiar to many of us who have spent too long at the beach without proper eye protection. In extreme cases, it can result in temporary loss of vision which can last as long as two days. Children are more susceptible to retinal damage than adults because their lenses are clearer, allowing more UV to penetrate deep into their eyes. The danger then grows throughout our lifetimes as we spend time in the sun, because the risk of eye damage from UV radiation is cumulative.
So how should we protect ourselves and our children?
Make sure you and your kids wear sunglasses with a high eye protection factor (EPF). According to ARPANSA Australian Sunglass Standards, sunglasses with a value of 4 and 5 absorb almost all UV radiation. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that meet Australian Standards can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%. Wrap-around sunglasses are the best as they reduce the amount of radiation entering from the sides; and polarised lenses are particularly good at reducing glare. Even if your contact lenses block UV, you should still use sunglasses to protect the parts of the eye not covered by them. Remember, wear sunglasses even in the shade or when it’s bright but cloudy; and they are an absolute must at the beach or snow where reflected radiation makes the potential for damage even more intense.
Do prescription glasses offer UV protection?
Lightweight active lenses absorb 99.9% of UV radiation as do most Hi-Index lenses, which are ideal for strong prescriptions. All other plastic prescription lenses from OPSM can have UV protection and tinting added.
Look after your eyes indoors too
It’s not just the sun doing the damage. Our eyes can be affected by over exposure to computer screens too. Working for hours with your eyes fixed on a screen at a specific distance can lead to eye strain.
Here are some handy hints to help protect our eyes:
Take a 2-3 minute break from screens every 45 minutes.
Limit your children’s computer and video game activity to 45 minutes.
Blink more often as it helps avoid dry eyes and irritation.
Request anti-reflective coating on your glasses to prevent glare.
Avoid lighting that’s in your direct line of sight or that reflects off the screen.
If you’re working on a computer, place reference material at the same distance as your screen so your eyes don’t have to continually readjust.
PS - HIF members don't forget you can shop the latest Women’s and Men’s Sunglasses from the world’s leading brands at OPSM, and regardless of your level of cover receive 21% off prescription sunglasses and 15% off non-prescription sunglasses. 85% of OPSM Sunglasses can be fitted with Prescription Lenses so HIF members can enjoy UV protection, clear vision and look their best.
To find out more about HIF's exclusive optical discounts on frames, contact lenses and prescription sunglasses, check out our Optical Benefits page or view our full Extras Cover comparison table.