Here comes the sun!
Summer’s just around the corner and, as every Australian knows, an essential element for the handbag or top pocket is the trusty pair of sunglasses. Like clothes and cars, iPods and smart phones, the fashion for “shades” changes every season and the latest styles are always available in abundance in online stores at this time of year.
After all, what self-respecting Aussie beachgoer, jogger, bushwalker or cyclist wouldn’t be seen without the latest and trendiest pair of sunnies?
However it would do well to remember that sunglasses serve a practical purpose, as well as being an important fashion statement. This is of course to protect our eyes from harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays.
UV rays are split into three categories A,B and C. All three are harmful and can cause significant damage to the eye. UV radiation can increase the possibility of cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which lead to reduced vision. Other potential problems include a link to skin cancer in the delicate tissue around the eye, corneal sunburn (similar to snow blindness) and unsightly growths on the cornea which lead to distorted vision.
Obviously in such an outdoors-orientated country such as ours, excellent protection from the harsh glare of our antipodean sun is essential. As such it is important to understand the difference between sunglasses which are tested and labelled according to the standard known as the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacles.
The standard rates sunglasses from 0 to 4 according to lens categories.
Zero category provides next to no sun glare protection for the eyes. Indeed these are considered less “sun” glasses than fashion accessories.
From there it’s a matter of degrees with category 1 providing very limited sun glare protection up to categories 3 and 4 which give the wearer good to very good UV protection.
The damage the sun can do to the eyes make spending a little extra on glasses that provide good or very good UV protection well worth the expense. Proper, protective sunglasses will go a long way towards giving full protection against these problems.