By Dr Nicholas Altuneg
The sun is a constant presence in our lives, and its rays, while vital for life on Earth, can pose a significant threat to our eyes.
That’s where sunglasses come into play as more than just a fashion statement; they are your reliable shield against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and a gateway to clearer vision. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the functional aspects of sunglasses, focusing on UV protection and the convenience of prescription sunglasses. Plus, we’ll share essential tips for eye care in various seasons while highlighting the subtle fashion elements that make sunglasses a versatile accessory.
UV Protection: Guarding Your Precious Vision
The sun’s powerful UV rays can harm your eyes if left unprotected. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to various eye conditions, including cataracts, pinguecula, pterygium, eyelid cancers and macular degeneration. Additionally, it can increase the risk of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss. This makes UV protection an essential function of sunglasses.
When shopping for sunglasses, ensuring they meet the Australia/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1067:2016) for UV protection is crucial. Look for sunglasses marked with a label indicating their UV protection level. Ideally, you should opt for sunglasses with lenses falling under category three or four, as these provide effective protection against UV and visible light. Be mindful that Category 4 sunglasses are too dark for driving purposes and are designed for extreme glare situations.
Prescription Sunglasses: Tailored Clarity for You
For individuals with vision correction needs, prescription sunglasses offer a practical solution. These specialised sunglasses combine the benefits of UV protection with precise prescription lenses customised to your visual requirements. They eliminate the need for constantly switching between regular glasses and sunglasses, providing clear vision while safeguarding your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Prescription sunglasses come in various styles, from classic designs to sporty frames, ensuring you can find a pair that not only suits your vision but also complements your style. Whether driving, reading, or enjoying outdoor activities, prescription sunglasses deliver the clarity you need, enhancing your vision while maintaining optimal eye health.
Protection for Every Season: Year–Round Eye Care
While summer often takes the spotlight for UV protection, it’s essential to remember that UV radiation is a year–round concern. The sun’s rays can harm your eyes in any season, not just during the summer months. Here’s a breakdown of UV protection and eye care considerations for different seasons:
- Summer: The sun’s rays are most intense during the summer, so wearing sunglasses with UV protection is crucial. Consider wraparound sunglasses for added coverage, especially if you spend time near water or in high–altitude locations.
- Winter: In winter, the sun sits lower on the horizon, and its UV rays can reflect off surfaces like snow and water, posing a risk to your eyes. Additionally, UV radiation can penetrate clouds, making wearing sunglasses on overcast days essential.
- Spring and Autumn: These transitional seasons still carry UV risks. Remember to wear sunglasses during outdoor activities, whether gardening in the spring or going for a brisk walk.
- Year–round: Sunglasses should be a staple in your daily attire regardless of the season. Ensure your sunglasses provide UV protection and fit comfortably to shield your eyes effectively.
Polarised lenses are more beneficial in high–reflected glare situations and are ideally used around water, snow, or when driving on open roads.
Fashion Meets Function: A Stylish Accessory
While sunglasses primarily serve a functional purpose, they also have a subtle fashion element. The frames and styles you choose can enhance your overall look and reflect your style. Whether you prefer classic aviators, chic cat–eye frames, or sporty wraparound designs, there’s a pair of sunglasses that matches your fashion sensibilities.
Sunglasses can elevate your style, adding a touch of sophistication or a hint of playfulness to your outfit. So, while you prioritise your eye health, why not do it in style? After all, sunglasses aren’t just about protection; they express your unique fashion sense.
Eye Care Beyond Sunglasses
While sunglasses play a significant role in UV protection, maintaining eye health involves more than just wearing shades. Here are some additional tips for comprehensive eye care:
- Regular Eye Examinations: Schedule routine eye exams to monitor your eye health, detect issues early, and update your prescription as needed.
- Hydration: Stay well–hydrated to moisturise your eyes and reduce the risk of dry eye syndrome, especially in arid or windy conditions.
- Proper Nutrition: A diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega–3 fatty acids can support your eye health.
Prioritising Your Eye Health with Style
This summer and beyond, make UV protection and prescription sunglasses an integral part of your daily routine. Whether strolling on the beach, pottering around in your garden, or running errands, remember that your eyes deserve the best care. With the right pair of sunglasses and comprehensive eye care, you can step out confidently, knowing you’re prioritising your eye health without compromising style. Your vision is a precious gift, and safeguarding it is a responsibility we should all take seriously while looking our best.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general eye health topics. It should not be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health care professional prior to incorporating this as part of your health regimen.
Dr Nicholas Altuneg is a Behavioural Optometrist who has been working on the Central Coast for almost 30 years. He is the co–founder of Eyes by Design, which is in the Kincumber Centre. Appointments can be made by phone 4369 8169 or online at