Sunglasses have become the go-to accessory thanks to celebrities in mainstream media and the all-purpose famous black but they also come in a handful of different tints and colours. This however, takes us away from the actual purpose of wearing sunglasses which is to protect our eyes from the Sun and its harmful rays. Proper care against damage caused by ultra violet light depends primarily on the treatment and coatings of lenses rather than on the shade or darkness of the sunglass, and poor quality fashion sunglasses can make you susceptible to headaches and fatigue.
Sunglasses act as a barrier against dust and airborne irritants such as pollen reaching the eye, so they can also help to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. Your optician can advise you on the best style and tint to suit your lifestyle. They will ensure that the sunglasses you buy are made from high quality materials and that they fit properly to give your eyes the best possible protection – valuable advice that is not generally available from other retail outlets. Make sure that the sunglasses you choose carry the CE mark; this indicates they have been manufactured to controlled high standards and have UV absorbers in the material of the lens.
Ultra Violet Rays
There are three types of UV radiation – UVA, UVB and UVC: UVA and UVB rays can damage different parts of the eye and the sensitive skin around the eyes, and are risk factors in diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Good quality sunglasses block the maximum possible amount of these rays. UVC rays do not reach us as they are absorbed by the upper atmosphere; if you wear spectacles, you can have sunglasses fitted with lenses to meet your prescription. Children spend a lot of time playing outdoors particularly in summer, as well as covering their skin with high factor sunblock, it is vital to protect their eyes from UV radiation with well fitted high quality sunspecs. Changes to our Ozone Layer is affecting our exposure to harmful rays, even more now than before so whether it’s to find shade from bright lights or gusts of wind and snow it is imperative to have the right sunglasses for you in the right conditions.
Lights and Lenses
If you wear contact lenses or do not need vision correction, there is an extremely wide range of frames with plain lenses in various styles and shapes. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, then a dark tint will be more comfortable. A lighter tint can be suitable for duller days or for indoors under artificial lighting or working at a computer. Neutral shades of brown, green and grey have a less distorting effect on the neutral colours around us, whereas blue tints can change the way we perceive some colours and are not recommended for driving. Polarised lenses are effective in combating glare, for instance reflection from road surfaces or water. Close-fitting wraparound styles offer good protection from wind and light from the side, making them ideal for sports. Shatterproof polycarbonate lenses and impact-resistant frames are particularly recommended for sports and for children.
Photochromic lenses are also widely available. These darken on exposure to bright light and can help your eyes to adjust to frequent changes in light conditions without the need to constantly put on and take off your sunglasses. Not all photochromic lenses change tint as fast as others, so check that the speed of reaction meets your needs.
Screens from T.Vs, computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices are popping up in almost all aspects of our lives, it is not surprising that there are an increasing number of complaints of headaches, shoulder and back pain and eyestrain. Many of these discomforts can be avoided by slight re-arrangements of your environment and sensible working practices. Simple adjustments to your seating, the position of your computer screen, documents on your desk, and suitable lighting conditions can all help to minimise problems. It is recommended to encourage sensible eye care habits from a young age by ensuring that your children do not spend long uninterrupted periods playing on their game consoles or sitting close to the television or computer screens.
Tired, dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches can all be the consequence of prolonged concentration on the screen. Take regular breaks (say every twenty minutes), to look away from the screen and relax your shoulders and your gaze. Surfing the internet or playing computer games does not count as a break. If you are in an office environment, try to vary your workload with phone calls, writing/reading, and filing, photocopying or talking with colleagues. If you do find your eyes feeling irritated while working at your computer, consciously increase your blink rate to help restore the tear film layer, or try lubricant eye drops and re-wet your contact lenses for relief.
Whether you are at home or at work, be sure to maintain good posture in a supportive chair and sit facing the screen rather than twisting your back or neck at an angle. Adjust your seat so that you can work with your forearms parallel to the work surface with both feet on the ground or a footrest. Make sure the computer is at a comfortable height and distance from your eyes, usually about 60 cm. Place your papers at a similar distance, on the desk or using a document holder, to avoid frequent re-focusing. Room lighting should be three times brighter than the screen, which should be kept clean and dust free. Newer flat-screen monitors present higher resolution distortion-free images. Eliminate glare and reflections on the screen by putting blinds or curtains at the windows.
Ellis Opticians is your local, independent opticians based at 350 Bradford Rd., Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. B36 9AD Tel. 0121 747 2115 www.ellisopticians.com