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Shade your eyes this summer

Health experts warn against fast fashion sunglasses

Millions of Brits risk permanent damage to their eyesight by wearing fast fashion sunglasses that offer little or no Ultraviolet (UV) protection.

Almost half of Brits say they choose fashionable frames when shopping for new sunglasses, while just 20% admit to looking out for the CE mark, which shows glasses have been made to appropriate standards.

An estimated 51% of shoppers buy their sunglasses from online or high street fashion retailers, opting for the latest styles and trends, and not necessarily frames or lenses that provide the best protection or coverage, according to research by the leading eye care provider.

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, said:

With the warmer weather upon us, sun worshipping Brits will be wearing their summer wardrobe and getting into the spirit of the season, ready to soak up some rays, either here or abroad.

Sunglasses may be a great fashion accessory to team with your favourite outfit, but being sun-wise can help to avoid a variety of eye health problems.


The sun’s UV rays are stronger throughout summer and long-term exposure can cause a variety of eye problems, such as photokeratitis, sunburn for the eyes, which can cause red eye, tearing, sensitivity to light and feeling like you have grit in your eyes.


Spending too much time unprotected in sunlight can also increase your risk of cataracts, a long-term condition where a cloud develops over the eye lens causing blurred vision. This can affect a number of day to day activities, so it’s always important to consult an eye specialist if you notice blurred vision, increased light sensitivity or a reduction in your quality of vision, even if it doesn’t have an impact on your daily routine.

Macular Degeneration

The macular pigment in our eyes is designed to filter UV light, to avoid damage to the sensitive cells of the fovea, a small pit located in the centre of the macula which is responsible for clear central vision. Unprotected sun exposure can speed up the process resulting in macular degeneration, which occurs when the cells in the retina are damaged and therefore deteriorate. This can cause impaired vision and even result in blindness in the long-term.

Top tips to keep your eyes protected:

1. UV 400 protection

It’s important to choose the right pair of sunglasses, so always try to choose a pair that offers UV 400 protection, as this can eliminate 97-100 per cent of UV rays.

Even if you are wearing sunglasses that are tinted, there are options available that offer no UV protection and can damage your eyes more than not wearing your sunglasses. Tinted lenses can trick the pupils into dilating, allowing more UV light to enter the eye, without offering protection.

2. Check for a CE Mark

Ensure that sunglasses carry a CE or British Standard Mark, as this indicates that the sunglasses offer a good level of protection and that the product complies with the essential requirements of European Health, Safety and Protection Legislation. That way, you can be sure your eyes are protected.

3. Protect children’s eyes

80% of lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before the age of 18, so it’s essential to protect children’s eyes against the sun. Children’s eyes are more likely to be irreversibly damaged by the sun, as the cornea, lens and fluid are clearer allowing more light to reach the retina. It’s imperative that children wear high quality protective sunglasses.

4. Check how much light can be let in around the frames

Although sunglasses may offer excellent levels of protection in the lenses, it is important to make sure the frames fit your face well enough to make sure light can’t easily enter your eyes from for example the side or above.

We all want to make the most of the sunshine and spending time outdoors between 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are strongest means that Brits need to be even more vigilant and protect their sight. If you have any concerns about your sight, book an appointment to see your optometrist at your earliest opportunity.