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  • intouch Magazine

Sunnies Need An Upgrade?

The advent of summer fills most Australians with a renewed commitment to sun protection.


However, as one Sydney Ophthalmologist reveals, the wrong choice of sun protection for our eyes can mean that we are actually increasing our risk of cancer, with many people confusing polarized lenses (which reduce glare) with glasses that offer UV protection.

"Sunglasses which do not filter out UV light result in an elevated melanoma risk to the back of the eyes," says Dr David Robinson of the Sydney Laser & Vision Centre.

"Some dark sunglasses, in particular, filter out the visible light meaning that our pupil size increases thus allowing more UV light into the back of the eye, which can increase people's risk of melanoma at the back of the eye."

Whilst not advocating that we ditch our sunnies altogether, Dr Robinson advises that we need to be prudent in our selection - we need to buy sunglasses that 100% satisfy the Australian standards.

Unfortunately, the advent of online shopping, in particular, means that many consumers are now purchasing and wearing sunglasses well below these standards, which can have devastating effects on their health.

Apart from reducing the risk of melanoma to the back of the eyes, effective sunglasses also reduce the risk of many other eye health conditions. For example, cataracts (a clouding of the eye's lens) are generally thought to be caused by long term, unprotected exposure to UVR (with age, smoking, diabetes and family history also contributing factors).

Similarly, pterygium (a fleshy overgrowth of the conjunctiva or membrane on the surface of the eye) is also thought to be caused by too much exposure to UVR. Australia has one of the highest rates of pterygium in the world due to our lifestyle and climate.

Dr Robinson advises consumers to consider sunglasses with appropriate side protection, such as wraparounds, and look for sunglasses with as large a lens as possible to prevent as much UVR from entering the sides of the glasses as they can.

Do your sunnies need an upgrade? Perhaps it's time to get along to your local eye care specialist.


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