Last Updated on Sunday, 12 July 2009 23:05
With the spring sunshine emerging and summer on its way, many Brits have been rushing to get their hands on the latest â€˜trendyâ€™ sunglasses. Wayfarers, over-sized and Aviators are all still strong trends for Summer â€™09 with celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Cheryl Cole and Kelly Osbourne leading the way in the style stakes.
However, fashion-conscious Brits should think further than the price-tag before splashing out on their choice of sun-specs â€“ eye experts warn that the focus should be on looking after your eyes when it comes to buying a new pair of shades and not just how good they look on.
Sunlight can damage the retina and lens of the eye, increasing the long-term risk of developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).
Recent research conducted by The College of Optometrists shows that:
Almost 80 per cent of under-25s put fashion and price BEFORE safety standards when choosing sunglasses.
The 66 and over age group is the only one to focus on protection over anything else when buying sunglassesâ€¦although theyâ€™re also the least likely group to have a pair
Overall, the majority of Brits (62.6 per cent) are more influenced by how sunglasses look and how much they cost than whether they actually protect eyes
Around one in seven of us (14 per cent) never wear sunglasses at all
Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric adviser at The College of Optometrists, says: â€œIt is particularly worrying that younger people have so little regard for their eyes when up to 80 per cent of exposure to UV over a personâ€™s lifetime occurs before the age of 18. Itâ€™s therefore especially important that parents make sure that children wear sunglasses so that any long-term damage is minimised.
â€œSummer is just around the corner, so itâ€™s time to protect your eyes by making sure that youâ€™ve got a good quality pair of sunglasses to wear. After all, most of us wouldnâ€™t dream of venturing out into the sunshine without sunscreen on, so why risk damaging your eyes by wearing sunglasses that arenâ€™t up to scratch? â€
With some sunglasses on sale across the UK offering little or no protection from harmful UV rays, The College of Optometrists is encouraging people to follow some basic, but essential, guidelines when purchasing their new sunglasses.
Buy good quality, dark sunglasses - Sunlight can damage the retina and the lens of the eye and we risk causing long term damage to our eyesight, developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) by remaining unprotected.
Check they are up to standard - Good sunglasses donâ€™t need to be expensive: you can purchase perfectly adequate protective sunglasses from high street stores. Look out for glasses carrying the "CE" Mark and British Standard BS EN 1836:1997, which ensures that the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.
Donâ€™t forget your kids â€“ The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 80 per cent of a person's lifetime exposure to UV is received before the age of 18.* Whatâ€™s good for you is good for them, too.
Theyâ€™re not just for summer - The sunâ€™s UV rays can be present in high enough levels to warrant protection throughout the year (so while some celebrities may be laughed at for wearing sunglasses in the winter, it actually may be good for eye health.) In fact, some people find the glare of the sun more noticeable in winter, particularly when they are driving, as the sun is lower in the sky. If you drive it is handy to keep a pair of (prescription if you need them) sunglasses in the car. And sunglasses should never be worn when driving at night.
Light coloured eyes are especially vulnerable - People with light coloured eyes are most at risk from sun damage. If you have blue eyes, take even more care to wear glasses in the sun.
People who wear glasses can wear sunglasses too â€“ Sunglasses can be made up to any prescription: distance, reading, bifocals or varifocals.
The College of Optometrists, the professional, scientific and examining body for optometrists in the UK, has issued this warning as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of eye health.