Sun through trees

UV and Sunglasses

We often feel we look sophisticated in sunglasses and we might find they also help us enjoy bright sunshine, but quality sunglasses can actually help maintain healthy eyesight.

Sun through trees
Sun through trees

Light contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation and while it’s invisible, its affects certainly aren’t. Apart from accelerating the ageing of our skin, it has the same effect on our eyes, particularly the crystalline lens within. UV can cause cataract, which turns our eye’s lens a near-opaque milky white. The only solution is to surgically remove the lens and replace it with a plastic lens implant. UV is also known to be a contributing factor in macular degeneration.

UV is most intense in bright sunny weather, especially at the beach or in the mountains and sometimes causes temporary but painful ‘snow blindness’.

Children and the sun

As we get older, our crystalline lens gradually yellows, which helps protect us from UV. However, as children our lenses are clear and offer very little protection. To make matters worse, children spend much more time outdoors than adults and therefore expose their eyes to much more ultraviolet radiation.

It’s quite possible that the eye diseases of older age have their roots in childhood. It’s therefore very important to protect children’s eyes from a young age.


It isn’t difficult to protect yourself from UV radiation though. All our sunglasses carry the CE Kite mark which is your guarantee they filter out all harmful UV radiation. Of course wearers of prescription spectacles need protection from UV too. Dark tints on their own will not usually be enough; you need to be sure that your lenses filter out all harmful UVA and UVB.

Transitions dark
Transitions lenses in their darkened state

All lenses we supply for sun wear, including the latest Transitions, fast-darkening, fast-lightening, plastic photochromic lenses, remove UV radiation. Polarising lenses cut through glare and offer complete protection too. They are available for single-vision and Varilux lenses.

If you’re going to be in areas of very high ambient UV, like skiing, you might want to consider wrap-around sun spectacles. Even these are available with prescription lenses, including Varilux varifocals.

Ask for details in the practice and we’ll talk to you about all the choices available to you.

Please note: This article is for information purposes only.  Please consult your Ophthalmic Optician or Doctor if you have any concerns.