National Sunglasses Day

Why Should I Wear UV-Protective Eyewear?

We’re all aware of the skin cancer risk due to ultraviolet (UV) exposure, but many don’t consider that those same UV rays can be equally damaging to our eyes, and the sensitive skin around our eyes.  In fact, the more time spent in the sun, the more at risk we are.

Why is it so important to protect your eyes and your children’s eyes:

Children spend a lot more time outdoors than their parents do and therefore are more exposed to UV Rays. In extreme cases, this over exposure can present itself as Photokeratitis – which is a form of sunburn in the eye. It is important to get your kids into sunnies early because a kid that spends time outside playing and participating in sports and then works outside as an adult accumulatively is at higher risk than an adult that is office based.

Include your children in the family sunglasses shopping run from an early age to avoid damage to vision. The earlier they learn about prevention, the more protected their eyes (and your medical savings) will be.

So think twice before you step out into another beautiful day without your shades.

So by now you might be asking what National Sunglasses Day is all about?

Well, it’s a world-recognized initiative celebrating the importance of wearing UV protective eyewear. This year the global day, celebrated on the 27th June in the northern hemisphere,  “resulted in more than 900 million impressions” on social media .

South Africa is known for its sunny skies and it is only apt that we also celebrate our sunshine, in a good way. Because we are in the southern hemisphere, our official National Sunglass Season lasts for over two months of the year – from December through January when the sun’s intensity peaks in our country.

In light of this initiative, Vision Works Optometrists answers some commonly asked questions about protecting your eyes from the sun’s potential harm below:

Can the strength of UV rays differ based on geography?

Yes, depending on your location, UV rays may vary in intensity. The concentration of UV light can be determined by the following factors:

  • Time of day: UV rays are the most concentrated between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Season of the year: During the Spring and Summer months UV rays almost double in strength.
  • Distance from the equator: UV exposure declines the further you are from the equator.
  • Altitude: The higher the altitude, the more UV rays penetrate the ground.
  • Cloud Cover: Don’t be fooled. Overcast or not, UV rays can get through, even on a cloudy day.
  • Reflective Surfaces: What makes UV rays the most dangerous is that they bounce off surfaces like water, sand, snow, pavement, or grass, resulting in increased exposure.

 What sight or eye related problems can I develop from exposure to UV rays?

  • Macular Degeneration: The leading cause of vision loss in some parts of the world.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens
  • Pterygium: A growth which begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea.
  • Skin Cancer: Skin cancer around the eyelids
  • Corneal Sunburn: The result of high short-term exposure to UV-B rays.


They’re the only pair you have!