Let’s hear it for the kids! Young eyes need protecting, because sun damage to eyes, like the rest of the skin, is cumulative. Get frames designed for babies and toddlers, with elastic to help keep them snug. Toy sunglasses don’t meet Australian safety standards so be sure to buy the real slim shady (thanks Eminem).
THE LOWDOWN ON UV DAMAGE
You can’t see or feel ultraviolet rays, but they can impact eye health.
• UVA rays account for up to 95 per cent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, plays a major part in skin ageing and can penetrate through the cornea to the lens and retina and can harm your central vision.
• More intense, UVB rays penetrate less deeply but cause sunburn, including of the delicate skin around the eyes. UVB radiation is the most common cause of cataracts (clouding of the eye’s natural lens). It’s also linked to an increased risk of macular degeneration, an incurable but preventable retinal disease.
• The shorter bands of UVC are the most dangerous form of ultraviolet radiation, but we’re protected from it by the ozone layer.
• Prolonged unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer around the eyes and eyelids. It’s more common than you might think.
• Corneal sunburn (photokeratitis or snow blindness) can occur after long hours of unprotected sun exposure – a day out on the water, for example. It may cause pain and temporary vision loss.
• Extended UV exposure can also cause growths on the surface of the eye. Pterygium (aka surfer’s eye) is harmless but can eventually cause vision problems. People who work or spend a lot of time outdoors are at the most risk.