Sun and Sunshine

There is evidence that too much exposure to the sunshine, in particular the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can contribute to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Children and the sun

Research has shown that 76 per cent of parents admit to not making sure their child wears sunglasses when out and about in the sun.

Since children spend a lot of time outside, it’s important to protect your child’s eyes in the sun. Make sure your child’s sunglasses have 100% UV protection and carry the British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013) or CE mark. You can also protect your child’s eyes by making sure they wear a hat with a brim or a sun visor in bright sunlight.

However, scientific studies have shown that children who spend time outdoors are less likely to be short-sighted, and some eye problems are linked to unhealthy lifestyles. So don’t stop your child exercising outdoors – just make sure their eyes are properly protected.

Buying sunglasses

Research has shown that almost 80 per cent of under-25s put fashion and price before safety standards when choosing sunglasses.

Buy good quality, dark sunglasses – good sunglasses don’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 ISO 12312-1:2013, which ensures that the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.


Sun beds have been linked to skin cancer, so they are best avoided. If you do use a sun bed, always make sure you wear eye protection while tanning.

The skin on eye lids is very thin and delicate so it is vital to protect eye lids from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Lack of protection could lead to benign eye growths called pterygium and repeated exposure to UV may cause long-term damage which could affect your sight – see cataract and macular degeneration.

So it is vital that you use effective eye protection in the form of goggles or ‘winkies’ on both sun and tanning beds.

More about the sun

The video below should be viewed in conjunction with the text beneath it and preferably watched while your optometrist discusses it with you.

Get Adobe Flash player

  • Light from the sun contains a spectrum of wavelengths.
  • We can see some wavelengths – the visible spectrum
  • … but we cannot see wavelengths such as infra-red and ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • There is good evidence that too much UV light can damage the eyes.
  • Excessive exposure to UV light can also cause the lens in the eye to go hazy – cataracts.
  • Photochromic lenses automatically adjust according to the brightness of the light
  • … changing from almost clear to a full sunglass tint in the sun.
  • This provides comfortable vision under all conditions and excellent protection from UV.