• Martyn Kemp Opticians

UV Protection For Your Eyes

Although we have spent the last few months a home and only able to venture outside once a day for exercise, we have been rather fortunate that the weather has been nice and warm for most of the lockdown period. For many this has meant more time outside tending to the garden, keeping the children entertained, or enjoying having a relax in the sun.

While it is lovely to enjoy the warm weather, we must remember to protect ourselves from UV.

UV protection for our eyes is something that often gets neglected and overlooked. The consequences of exposing your skin to UV radiation is well understood by the general population, however only 7% of people associate UV exposure with eye problems.

What is UV radiation?

Many people refer to ultraviolet radiation as ‘UV light’ however UV radiation is invisible as it is higher in energy and does not fall in the realm of visible light. The two common categories of UV radiation that many people will have heard of are UVB and UVA.

UVB rays stimulate the production of melanin, which causes the skin to darken creating a suntan. In higher doses UVB can cause sunburn increasing the risk of cancer, skin discolouration, wrinkles and other signs of premature ageing. Over exposure to UVB rays is also associated with a number of eye problems such as pterygium also known as ‘surfers eye’ and photokeratitis –‘snow blindness’.

UVA rays have lower energy than UVB, but can still pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina, this type of radiation has been linked to the development of cataracts and may play a part in the development of macular degeneration.

Protecting The Eyes From UV

It is really important to protect yours and your children’s eyes from UV radiation. Some experts believe that half a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18 due to spending more time outdoors. The best way to protect your eyes is by wearing good quality sunglasses, that block 100 percent of all UV rays, meet the British Standard and carry the CE mark. Depending on whether you use your sunglasses for everyday, or sport there are different types of lenses available for your sunglasses.

Another way to protect your eyes is by getting photochromic lenses in your spectacles. These are lenses that change colour when exposed to UV, this means your eyes are always protected from UV without the need for carrying two pairs of glasses. Photochromic lenses do not go as dark as sunglasses, so they may not be as visually comfortable to look through, but they do provide the same level of protection as sunglasses.

Sunglasses are advised all year round, as UV is always present, even on a dull day. Many people believe that they do not need to wear sunglasses in winter, however snow can reflect up to 80% of UV and cause a lot of glare when the sun is shining on it. Sunglasses are available in prescription or plano lenses, and a suitable to wear over contact lenses. We have a vast range of sunglasses in our practices, in many different materials and colours, so you will be sure to find something you like.

For more information about sunglasses, lenses and UV protection contact your local MKO and speak to one of our Dispensing Opticians or Optometrists. Our practices are open and safety measures have been implemented to ensure visits to us are safe and enjoyable. If you are unsure about visiting please feel free to call ahead, and we can arrange a specific time and date for you to visit.

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