Protective eyewear against the sun

The South African sun is a big plus to all of us living in this country – as long as we are prepared against its harmful qualities.
The first thing we think about when going into the sun is our skin, as we should but looking after your eyes while out in the sun is just as important. After all, you only have one pair of eyes.
Sunlight contains two powerful and damaging invisible forms of radiation; ultraviolet and infrared waves. Continued exposure to these can inflict serious damage to the eyes. Unfortunately, since this damage is not immediately evident and only reveals itself in later years, many people do not protect their eyes from the sun.
Sunglasses are worn mainly to eliminate discomfort and the disabling effects of bright light, glare and radiation. They will also help to eliminate tearing or blinking caused by excessive brightness. The best sunglasses are not necessarily the darker ones.
The lenses of a good pair of sunglasses should always have the following features:
* UV block.
* Blue light block: Long-term exposure to violet/blue light can play a role and degeneration of the macula (the area of the retina where vision is sharpest). Therefore, a partial blue block is important.
* Polarisation: This factor is recommended for fishing or boating. Light reflected off a smooth surface is polarised, causing glare or haze.
* Should be ground and polished to be free of distortion and imperfections.
* Must match your prescription if you usually wear spectacles out of doors.
The fit of sunglasses is vitally important in reducing UV exposure. For the most complete protection, sunglasses need to fit against the forehead or eyebrows and ideally they should wrap around the side of your face.
Sunglasses should not be worn indoors as continued or prolonged indoor wear affects the eyes’ natural ability to tolerate normal light.
Since there are many choices available to consumers when buying sunglasses, it is easy to become confused. Not only is there a great selection but the price does not always relate to the quality of the product.
For the best advice on sunglasses, consult your professional optometrist. After all your eyes deserve the best.
* Information courtesy of the South African Optometric Association.

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