Sunglasses: not just for looks
Sunglasses are not just a summer fashion accessory; they are important for keeping eyes healthy all year round.
While nearly everyone is aware that UV radiation is harmful to the skin, many do not realize the importance of protecting our eyes from the sun in order to prevent cataracts, vision loss, blurriness and eyelid cancer, not to mention wrinkles. Our eyelids are thin and fragile, and may be injured easily by UV radiation, even on cloudy days. Yet, sunglasses that do not have the right protection can cause more damage than help. In fact, when we wear dark glasses, our pupils grow larger to let more light in. Sunglasses that do not offer the proper UV-protection will therefore admit more damaging sun rays. With fateful consequences.
So, next time you buy a pair of sunglasses, make sure that they are UV protected.
It is also worth noting that children’s eyes are particularly vulnerable to UV rays. This is because the lenses within their eyes are less able to block harmful rays. Kids are particularly susceptible at high altitudes, in tropical climates, and in reflective environments such as the beach or the snowy slopes.
For all these reasons, sunglasses must meet requirements for UV protection and visible light protection.
A number of international and European standards help the sunglasses industry ensure that their products are effective and work as intended.
Standard NBN EN ISO 12312-1 provides a series of requirements that manufacturers must comply with, such as checking that their products do not have sharp edges that may injure wearers, or cause vision impairments that prevent users from distinguishing traffic lights, as well as stating the different levels of UV protection. NBN EN ISO 12311 will help the industry ensure efficiency and reliability through product testing, by providing specifications and instructions. NBN EN 1836+A1 specifies physical properties (mechanical, optical etc.) for sunglasses and sunglare filters for general use, including road use and driving.
All three standards make up a powerful team that will increase confidence in the global trade of sunglasses, and protect our eyes.
Enjoy the summer holidays, but keep your eyes safe!