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UV protection

How To Protect Your Eyes From UV While Travelling

By 12 September 2013 Travel, Travel Tips

Do you think about the sun’s UV intensity when you’re packing for a trip?  Yes?  I assume you make sure that you pack the right sunscreen but do your thoughts go as far as your sunglasses?  I always wear sunglasses when it’s bright because I squint, even if it’s overcast, so I’m that person wearing sunglasses all year round! To be honest, I only really wear my sunglasses to prevent me getting headaches and to help me see.  I’ve never really thought about the effect that UV could have on my eyes so when I was invited to a webinar hosted by The Vision Council all about UV tips for travellers I was interested to learn more.

In a 2013 study by The Vision Council it was observed that 40% of adult Americans were not wearing sunglasses while outside and 48% were observed without sunglasses while driving.  Most people are aware of the harmful UV rays that come from the sun, that’s why we wear sunscreen, to prevent sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer.  But did you know that you can get skin cancer on the delicate skin around your eyes or even your eyelids?  I know I’ve never put sunscreen on my eyelids!  That sounds pretty nasty and something you and I definitely want to avoid.

UV safety facts infographic from The Vision Council
It doesn’t even have to be super bright and sunny for your eyes to be exposed to harmful UV rays.  You should also wear sunglasses when it’s overcast, especially if you’re on the water or skiing.  Recently, CNN reporter, Anderson Cooper, got sun burn in his eyes while filming in water.  It was cloudy so he didn’t put sunglasses on.  He actually suffered with temporary blindness in one eye for 36 hours!  UV exposure is actually cumulative.  Frequent exposure to the sun makes our eyes more prone to visual problems and disease as we get older, for example macular degeneration or cataracts.

Only 16 degrees Centigrade in Folkestone and cloudy but a UV index of 4.

How to protect your eyes

To make sure you’re prepared for the sun, check out the UV rating, which is found on a decent weather forecast, such as on the Weather Channel or Met Office in the UK.  Understanding the UV index will help you to protect your eyes.

It’s not just about simply wearing sunglasses, it’s important to choose a pair that offer you good UV protection, both UVA and UVA.  The best way to do this is to steer clear of those cheap designer knock offs on the market and buy from a reputable retailer.  Check for the UV protection sticker. Buying cheap sunglasses without the proper UV protection can actually do more harm than good because behind the dark lens your pupils will dilate and allow more of the sun’s rays in.  You’d be better off not wearing any sunglasses if you wear rubbish ones!

So ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’13, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunglasses would be it.  And because this topic has totally reminded me of that 1999 song from Baz Luhrmann (and yes I know that’s sunscreen not sunglasses but humour me here!) here’s the video!

Who are The Vision Council?

The Vision Council are a not-for-profit organisation that represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry.

***Disclaimer: I was compensated for taking the time to participate in the webinar.  All opinions are my own.***

By Rachel Birchley

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