When summer rolls around, we try to avoid too much sun exposure. Hats, sunscreen and beach umbrellas are the rule. And, of course, sunglasses.
But a new study from Australia says your sunglasses may not be doing their job. And that means you could face serious eye trouble in just a few years.
Here’s the story… along with a few simple tips to help you take care of your precious sight.
Australians are exposed to a lot of sun. And it’s intense. So they take their sunglasses seriously. So seriously, in fact, that sunglasses sold there are tested by the government.
But that’s not how it works in the US and in Europe. While we do have standards for sunglasses, there’s no testing. We trust sunglass makers to label their products accurately.
But accuracy wasn’t what an Australian team found when they looked at 646 pairs of glasses from Europe. All the glasses were marked with the “CE” logo. The logo indicates these glasses meet Europe’s standard for blocking UV light. But nearly one pair in five failed to meet the standard.1
With many of the same brands available in the US, we could expect similar results here.
In other words, you could be exposing your eyes’ delicate tissues to far more UV light than is safe. And that could result in permanent damage.
Fortunately, you can avoid playing Russian roulette with your vision this summer. Just follow these simple guidelines to be sure your sunglasses are doing their job:
- Stay away from cheap sunglasses. They’re more likely to fail UV protection requirements.2
- Get your sunglasses from your eye doctor or optician. In some comparisons, these were the least likely to be faulty.3
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses. UV light can “leak” in from the side. Blocking this “leakage” is especially important if you spend a lot of time outdoors.4
- Look for glasses that provide 99% – 100% of both UVA and UVB light.5 Some studies suggest that blocking blue light is also important.4
- If you have any problems with color vision, be careful about the tint of your lenses – especially when driving. Reddish, yellow and green-tinted lenses can make it more difficult for you to see traffic lights.6
- Be sure you’re getting plenty of antioxidants – especially vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin and zinc. These antioxidants support eye health by mopping up the free radicals UV exposure causes.7
Finally, when you’re shopping for sunglasses, here are three things you don’t need:
- Darker lenses. Even clear lenses can be treated to block UV light. And glasses that are too dark can interfere with driving.
- Polarized lenses. Polarization cuts glare, which can help with clarity. But polarization doesn’t block UV light.
- UV coating. This add-on – often advertised for “extra protection” – is pointless. If your sunglasses already meet the “UV400” standard, coating will only add cost.
Summer is a time to enjoy vacation, your favorite activities, family and friends. And if you follow these simple tips, you can do it while keeping your eyes safe from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 Dain SJ, et al. Sunglasses, the European directive and the European standard. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2010 May;30(3):253-6.
2 Leelawongtawun W. The Efficiency of Ultraviolet Light Absorption by Commercially Available Sunglasses Lenses in Bangkok and Circumference. Thai J Opthalmol. Vol 20, No 2, July – Dec 2006, Page 133.
3 Jafari et al. Ultraviolet Radiation Absorption by Sunglasses. Iranian Journal of Ophthalmology, Volume 20, Number 4, 2008.
4 Reichow AW, et al. Ultraviolet and short wavelength visible light exposure: why ultraviolet protection alone is not adequate. J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2006;16(4):315-25.
5 Sheedy JE and Edlich RF. Ultraviolet eye radiation: the problem and solutions. J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2004;14(1):67-71.
6 Dain SJ, et al. Sunglasses, traffic signals, and color vision deficiencies. Optom Vis Sci. 2009 Apr;86(4):e296-307.
7 Fletcher AE, et al. Sunlight exposure, antioxidants, and age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Oct;126(10):1396-403.