1. If the sun doesn’t bother my eyes, do I still need to wear sunglasses?
Yes. The sun has damaging UV rays that can cause permanent retinal damage.
2. What exactly are UV rays?
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are located just past the violet portion of the visible light spectrum; sunlight is the main source. UV light is broken into three different types: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA has longer wavelengths and passes through glass easily; experts disagree about whether or not UVA damages the eyes. UVB rays are the most dangerous, making sunglasses and sunscreen a must; they don't go through glass. UVC rays do not reach the Earth because its atmosphere blocks them.
3. When do UV rays affect my eyes?
Most people think that they're only at risk when they're outside on a sunny day, but UV light can go right through clouds, so it doesn't matter if the sky is overcast. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 am and 2 pm.
Glare and reflections can give you trouble, so have your sunglasses ready if you'll be around snow, water or sand, or if you'll be driving (car windscreens are a big glare source).
4. What are my options to prevent damage to my eyes?
You must wear sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes. While some contact lenses provide UV protection, they don't cover your whole eye, so you still need sunglasses.
Look for sunglasses that protect you from 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labelled as "UV 400," which refers to protection from 400 nanometers (all of UVA and UVB).
Also, you may want to consider wraparound sunglasses to prevent harmful UV rays from entering around the frame.
5. Are impact-resistant lenses necessary?
Those who play sports or wear sunglasses whilst at work need to consider ultra impact resistant polycarbonate lenses.
6. Do I still need those "UV Protective" sunglasses if my lenses are real dark?
Yes! Most people believe that the darkness of the lens is what protects their eyes. The degree of darkness has no effect on UV rays. You must buy sunglasses that indicate they absorb UV rays.
7. Are the more expensive sunglasses of better quality?
Not necessarily. While expensive sunglasses are usually high quality, you can also get a good pair for under £20 if you're a careful shopper. Just make sure to check that they provide adequate protection from UV light and are shatterproof.
You can also take them to your eye care professional to have the lenses metered for the amount of UV transmission that passes through the lens. That way you can be sure that you are getting the most from your sunglasses.
8. Children don't need sunglasses, do they?
Children are at particular risk because they're in the sun much more than adults, and their eyes are more sensitive as well. UV damage is cumulative over a person's lifetime, which means you should begin protecting your child's eyes as soon as possible.
Most parents would not allow their children to go outside without shoes, yet many seem unaware of the need to protect their children's eyes.
9. Do those sunglasses for specific sports really make a difference?
Yes. Sports eyewear in general tends to be safer than regular sunglasses because the lenses and frames are made of special materials that are unlikely to shatter if struck and can give you the benefits of both sunglasses and protective eyewear.