The Importance of wearing sunglasses

Length: 4 minutes read
Date added: 18/07/19
Author: Optical Team

Our expert Optometrist, Nish Dattani discusses the importance of wearing sunglasses this summer and all year round.

At this time of year, we are all rejoicing in the return of the sun. With all that excitement we can forget the many risks of excess sunlight to our bodies. One area that people tend to focus on much less than the skin are the eyes. We all know that too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn and skin cancer, but not everyone is aware that UV can also cause damage to our eye health and vision.

Sunglasses are more than a fashion item.

When outdoors, sunglasses provide a crucial shield from direct sunlight. They offer protection from UV rays and solar radiation causing harm to your eyes. Sunglasses reduce the likelihood of these eye conditions developing caused by sun damage. You may think that sunglasses are only necessary for bright, cloudless sunny days but in actual fact, the eyes need protection even on cloudy days. The sun’s damaging UV rays can penetrate through the cloud cover and still cause damage to your eyes. It is best to wear protection sunglasses throughout the Spring & Summer months.

Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to the development of eye conditions such as:

  • Cataracts – when the lens, a transparent disc inside the eye starts clouding. It is usually an age related condition, where the clouding of the lens begins to limit vision. The risk of cataracts can be dramatically increased if exposed to prolonged sun exposure. This is due to the UV rays accelerating the breaking down of proteins in the eye lens and thus preventing light from passing through the lens, causing blindness. To reduce your chances of developing cataracts in addition to wearing sunglasses, ensure you get regular eye examination for early detection.
  • Macular-Degeneration – an age-related eye condition affecting the central part of the retina. It starts developing for people in their 50’s and onwards. Unlike cataracts it does not cause total blindness, however, it can start to limit your vision. Studies have shown that the main risk factor in developing macular degeneration is from prolonged sun exposure and smoking. 
  • Pinguecula and Pterygium – when excess tissue grows on the eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering over the white part of the eye. It is caused by long-term sun exposure and is prominent to those who live in warmer climates or are over the age of 70. Pinguecula and Pterygium are easily preventable and if you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, shielding your eyes with protective sunglasses can reduce your risk. 
  •  Photo-keratitis – a painful and temporary eye condition caused by excessive, unprotected sun exposure. This is the eye’s equivalent of sunburn and affects the corneas of the eyes.  Anyone who spends long periods of time in the sun would be at risk. However, it is easily preventable by wearing proper eye protection such as sunglasses or snow goggles and the proper application of sunscreen which blocks 97% of all UV rays. 

Sun safety tips: 

Beyond sunglasses, there are a few other things to keep in mind when protecting your eyes from the sun:

  • Wear a hat: If you’re going outside when it’s sunny, it’s a good idea to wear a broad-brimmed hat. This helps to provide shade to protect your eye’s from the sun.
  • Don’t look into the sun: Never look directly at the sun, even if it doesn’t seem to be causing harm to your eyes at the time. It can be tempting to look during a solar eclipse for example, but it can cause permanent damage to your eye’s retina and corneal sunburn. 
  • Clouds offer no protection: A cloudy day doesn’t mean there is no danger to your eyes. The sun’s UV rays can pass through haze and thin clouds.
  • Seek shade: Try and avoid UV rays to directly hit your eyes by seeking shade and if possible limit sun exposure between the hours of 10am – 4am. 
  • Take extra care near water, snow and sand: The sun’s rays reflect more than 80% of these surfaces and thus hitting your eyes a second time. Therefore it is advised to take extra precautions when near these surfaces.


So remember prevention is key, alongside sun cream, a pair of sunglasses should be an essential accessory this Summer.  Whether you are jetting off to that much-anticipated holiday or simply heading for a walk in the countryside, don’t forget your specs!


At Whitby & Co, we have a wide variety of designer sunglasses to choose from.  It can be tricky to try on glasses and be certain what suits you. That’s where our expert team come in – our opticians and optometrists are experienced at giving the right advice to help you find your perfect summer shades.

Visit us on Fleet Street to view our range of brands from Maui Jim to Tom Ford.


Contact Us London independent opticians Whitby & Co Fleet Street Whitby & co optical eye care eye tests

0207 353 4455 ^

^ Lines are open 9:00-17:30, Monday-Friday.








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