Are your sunglasses really protecting your eyes?

As the weather starts to get warmer and the sun starts to shine brighter, you might find yourself reaching to put your sunglasses on, but are they really protecting your eyes?

Australia has high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that is produced by the sun and is the major cause of sunburn, premature ageing, eye damage and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.

Just like we protect our skin from the harsh UV rays by wearing hats, clothing and sunscreen, it’s important we protect our eyes too.

According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) wearing sunglasses is an effective method of sun protection and reduces the risk of damage to your eyes.

There are five categories of lenses that help classify the level of protection for sunglasses that meet the Australian standard against solar UVR.

  • Lens category 0: Fashion spectacles - not sunglasses - very low sun glare reduction - some UV protection

  • Lens Category 1: Fashion spectacles - not sunglasses - limited sun glare reduction - some UV protection

  • Lens category 2: Sunglasses: medium sun glare reduction and good UV protection

  • Lens category 3: Sunglasses - high sun glare reduction and good UV protection

  • Lens category 4: Special purpose sunglasses – very high glare reduction and good UV protection – not suitable for road use and driving

Low-quality and non-compliant sunglasses may absorb light but allow UV radiation through, which can actually be more dangerous for people than if they were to wear no sunglasses.

Karen Makin, Bupa Optometrist and Optometric Services Manager says that when you’re selecting a new pair of sunglasses, although the look may be important to you, it’s vital to check the category.

I would suggest that when you are shopping for sunglasses, look for ones that are labelled category 2, 3 or 4 as they will give your eyes the best UV protection.

Choose sunglasses that are close fitting and wrap-around as these styles reduce the reflected UV radiation and glare that can pass around the edge of sunglasses and bounce off the back of the lenses.
Karen Makin, Bupa Optical senior optometrist

“If you’re outdoors playing sport and can wear sunglasses, consider category 3 or 4 for ultimate protection, especially if you’re outdoors for an extended period of time.

“Make sure to use a combination of UV protection measures outside including wearing sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen and staying in the shade where possible.

“If you’re unsure of what sunglasses you need for certain outdoor activities, talk to your optometrist or sunglass specialist in-store, to help you choose the right pair,” said Ms Makin.

Bupa Optical sells both category two and three sunglasses, which provide a good level of UV protection and medium to high level of sun glare protection and prescription sunglasses for those who need prescription lenses to improve their vision.

Bupa Optical currently stock over 15 sunglass brands in store.

Visit one of our stores across Australia or visit bupaoptical.com.au to find out more.


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