Sunglasses: Wearing cheap glasses can be harmful for your eyes, doctors warn

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory and here's why you should pay closer attention to the certification of your eyewear.

Sunglasses: Wearing cheap glasses can be harmful for your eyes, doctors warn
© Getty/ Fernando Trabanco Fotografía
Sunglasses: Wearing cheap glasses can be harmful for your eyes, doctors warn

Summer is almost here, and so you should be thinking about the quality of your eyewear. Turns out, not every pair of sunglasses is cut out to do the job of protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays. In fact, pinching pennies when buying sunglasses, could harm your eyes.

Cheaper isn’t always better

Some people wear glasses as fashion accessories, but they are more than that. Just as we use sunscreen to protect our skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV light, so do sunglasses serve as protection for the eye. The damage caused by the sun rays to our eyes include sunburn of the cornea, cataracts and skin ageing.

The type of eyewear you use is important in determining how much protection you get. Laser eye surgeon, Dr David Allamy explained:

Wearing sunglasses will not block 100% of UV (ultraviolet), as rays can still get to the eye through the sides. Wearing wraparound sunglasses will greatly help, as will making sure that lenses block out 'UVA' rays as well as UVB, as these are the most harmful.

Buying cheap glasses, without paying attention to the certification on them, could defeat the purpose of wearing them in the first place.

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What to look out for

If you are considering buying a new pair of sunglasses, you should look for the British and European standard markings on the label. This is because the UK and Europe have instituted very strict standards for sunglasses, ensuring that they block 99-100% of UV radiation.

Also, you should pay attention to the darkness of the lens. Dr Allamy explained why:

The dark lenses will lead to dilation of the pupil, which in turn will allow more light and UVA energy to enter the eye and cause damage to the retina and lens.

Another crucial mark of a good pair of sunglasses is its style. Researchers have found that this plays a bigger role in protecting your eyes than you might think. Glasses that wrap around the eye are better options to consider.

But all this does not mean that expensive eyewear is guaranteed to protect you. Focus on the certifications and not so much on the brand. Dr Allamy added:

However, be warned, that expensive sunglasses, such as those with designer frames or polarizing lenses, will not necessarily give the highest level of protection against UV either.
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