When someone asks “Do I look good in these sunglasses?” maybe they should get the answer “Yes you do – but is that REALLY the point of them?”

It’s unfortunate that today’s society treats the choice of sunglasses as more of a question of fashion and style than of safety and practicality, as the reasons for wearing them are…

One of the best ways to get a really functional pair of sunglasses is to visit your optometrist. What is often misunderstood is the variety of lens options there are available. Depending on your activity, whether it be golf, snow skiing or fishing, there is a lens option that is best.

How many pairs of sunglasses do you need?

The old joke goes:

• a pair for wearing
• a pair for sitting on, and
• a pair for losing!

But seriously, it’s advisable to have more than one pair for the different situations and conditions that arise.

For example, it’s good to have a pair just for the car, if only for the simple reason they are always there – a cloudy day can soon change into a day with glaring sun, and apart from any damage that may be caused to eyes, it could be downright dangerous! Some cars have a cooled compartment below the rear view mirror for the “car sunnies” – which don’t have to be fashionable!

Any activity involving water, be it fishing, sailing or even just watching, needs sunglasses to be fully polarised to be able to deal with the strong reflected light.

What to Look for When Buying Sunglasses

It’s not surprising that Australia with its harsh sunlight and prevalence of skin cancer was the first country in 1971 to legislate to have proper sunglasses, introducing an Australian Standard which since has been updated: Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 – all sunglasses must now conform to that standard, and be labelled with a tag on a cord to show it.

Sunglasses are put in to categories by the Standard, with categories 0 and 1 only being considered as fashion spectacles, The remaining categories 2, 3 and 4 are defined as sunglasses glare reduction increasing from medium through high and on to very high.

The labels must show how much UV (ultra violet) light protection is provided – an eye protection factor (EPF) of 9 or 10, blocking almost all of the UV, is recommended by the Cancer Council. The Council also states that the style of the sunglasses is important too, but not in the fashion sense; sunglasses should be quite close fitting to prevent sun getting in round the sides and top. If the sides of the sunglasses aren’t themselves effective in stopping glare, the glasses should be designed to wrap themselves around the face.

Having noted all of this, we all know of course that wearing a hat REALLY helps in reducing glare. What we may not realise though is that it’s by as much as 50%.

Why Does the Cancer Council Make so Many Recommendations?

Without sunglasses a person can suffer from a variety of eye complaints including sunburn of the cornea, a complaint similar to snow blindness, and development of an eye condition called pterygium and or pinguecula. Prolonged exposure to strong sunlight without adequate protection from sunglasses can lead to the worst complaints of all, skin cancers around the eyes and eyelids, and cataracts. Ultraviolet light also has been associated with Macular Degeneration.

If that doesn’t scare, what about crow’s feet around your eyes from squinting – we knew that would get you!

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