Over the years, sunglasses have become a fashion statement, and even a status symbol when it comes to what brand you wear. It is important, under such circumstances, that we fully understand how important they are as an eye health necessity rather than a fashion accessory.



As Ophthalmologists will tell you, overexposure to the sun not only wreaks havoc on your skin, but can also damage your eyes. That’s why it is necessary, and seriously so, to protect your eyes with sunglasses, not just in summer when the sun is at its fiercest, but all the year round as well. Always remember that even on cloudy days, the UV index can be dangerously high, and consequently the danger of damaging your eyes.



It helps to be aware that overexposure to the sun can cause damage to your cornea, tissue growth on the surface of the eyes, as well as skin cancer on the eyelids. When you think of how serious the implications are of going outside without protective eyewear, you will realise the importance of how choosing the right sunglasses can shield you against eye threatening problems.



Some facts about the usage and necessity of eye protection:



•          Children need to wear sunglasses too. We need to be aware that children’s eyes are not able to block out UV rays as well as an adult’s eyes, so they really need to wear protective lenses more than adults do. Opticians say that children as young as three should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, as children’s eyes are more vulnerable to sun damage because their cornea, lens and fluids are clearer, thereby allowing more light to reach the retina. It is important to note that by the age of 18, children will have absorbed 80% of their lifetime exposure to UV light.



•          Even if you wear contact lenses that offer UV protection, you should still wear sunglasses to protect the total surface of your eyes. The sunglasses also prevent the drying effect when wind meets contact lenses.



•          People with light eyes are at higher risk of sun damage and need to take even greater care to protect their eyes all the year round.


•          If you don’t have wraparound sunglasses, you are advised to wear a hat with at least a three-inch brim that can block sunlight from overhead.


•          Do take care to shield small infants from direct exposure to the sun by making sure that prams etc., have a protective overhead covering.



Here are some pointers to procuring the right pair of protective lenses.



•          Whatever you do, know that any money you spend on sunglasses is an investment in your eye health, so stay away from fakes.


•          It is necessary to choose protective eyewear with a side shield or wraparound protection, so that light is prevented from entering the eye from side reflections.


•          Only buy sunglasses labelled UV 400, as these offer more than 95% UV protection, which is the recommended level of protection. However, do be aware that not all sunglasses are labelled.


•          Do note that even if sunglasses are dark they may not necessarilyguarantee the required protection. UV labelled, genuine protective lenses are also available in neutral grey, amber, brown and green, and block 80% of transmissible light. So even light lenses sold by a trusted brand are preferable to dark lenses that you cannot trust for authenticity.


Above all, maintain your eye health by going for regular check-ups to your Ophthalmologist and consult an expert at the first sign of any problems.