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Eye Health – Sunglasses, Fashion or Protection?

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

Almost always I am asked about whether there is really a place for sunglasses in our daily lives. Most ladies have no problems about wearing sunglasses because it makes them look good. In fact, many women actually look out for sunglasses that are stylish to fit into their collection of fashion accessories. While it may make you feel good wearing a fashionable pair of sunglasses, there are actually more important reasons to get those sunglasses than just fashion.

Here are some pointers to take note of. For a start, be aware of the dangers that ultraviolet (UV) light especially from the sun can pose. Harmful UV radiation from the sun can damage various parts of the eyes including conjunctiva, lens and also the retina (nerve). Long-term exposure to sunlight increases the risk of cataract formation and also pterygia (a growth on the surface of the eye).

In short, the sun that can burn our skin can also burn our eyes! In fact, staring at the sun can cause permanent burns (solar retinopathy) resulting in scarring of the retina which is the nerve behind the eye that is very important for good vision. Too much glare from sunlight may also trigger off headaches. Therefore, it is important to take adequate precautions to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays.

Clouds actually don’t make too much difference because the sun’s rays easily pass through thin clouds without much problem. These rays can also penetrate through haze (that has affected Malaysia many times in the past). So, do not let such weather conditions fool you into thinking that you are safe from UV rays. It would be best to wear protective sunglasses. Here are some points to note when getting a pair.

  • Get a good pair of sunglasses that block off the harmful ultraviolet or UV rays.
  • The ability to block off UV light does not depend on how expensive the sunglasses, or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
  • Brand does not matter!! Of course looking like James Bond or Audrey Hepburn when wearing them is a bonus but it’s the quality of the glass that matters most.
  • Choose a pair of sunglasses that either has a CE mark, a label that says 100% UV protection from UVA and UVB rays, or has a UV400 tag.
  • Buy your sunglasses from a reputable retailer who is unlikely to sell you anything inferior.
  • Choosing a pair of sunglasses that wraps all around to the side of your face is preferable as it prevents strong sunlight from passing through the unprotected sides.

It’s never too late to begin protecting your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you do not succumb to eye problems that can be prevented due to harmful UV rays. Wearing the appropriate sunglasses will help.

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Dr S.S. Gill

Dr S.S. Gill is a Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at Hospital Fatimah, Ipoh. For more information on Eye Health, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05 545 5582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

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