How to keep your eyes safe in Summer

Don’t forget this important step to being sun smart!
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While most of us have got the message when it comes to protecting our skin from the sun, we often forget that it’s important to protect our eyes as well.

“Living in Australia means that we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation when we’re outside, even when it’s not bright and sunny,” optometrist Greeshma Patel from Specsavers says.

WATCH: Hailey Bieber‘s sunglasses go viral. Article continues after video.

“While our eyelids are designed to protect our eyes, the skin around our eyes is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can easily be damaged by UV light. UV damage to the eye and eyelid increases risk of serious conditions such as eyelid skin cancers, intraocular melanoma, conjunctival cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration and more.”

Obviously slipping on a pair of sunnies is one of the best ways that you can protect your eyes. However, the message can be confusing. Here, Patel answers your major questions.

Nicole Kidman rocks a good pair of sunnies. (Credit: Instagram)

What symptoms should I look out for?

Symptoms to look out for when it comes to sun-damaged eyes include redness, blurry vision, swelling, light sensitivity, seeing halos and tears.

“If you notice any of these symptoms, you should book in and speak with an optometrist who can do a full screening to check for damage,” Patel advises.

What do the ratings on sunglasses mean?

In Australia and New Zealand, all sunglasses need to be tested for sun safety standards. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) sets the standard for protection against UV damage, with lens categories ranging from 0 to 4. Sunglasses with a rating of 2 offer medium sun glare reduction and good UV protection, while a rating of 3 means high sun glare reduction and good UV protection.

What are polarised sunglasses and are they worth it?

Standard sunglasses will protect your eyes from bright light and, in most cases, offer UV protection — but they aren’t always able to reduce glare. Polarised sunglasses can look the same as standard sunglasses, but their lenses feature a polarising film that changes the way light reaches your eyes

Protect your eyesight with polarised glasses. (Credit: Instagram)

Polarised sunglasses have a special film embedded into the lens that helps to increase comfort and clarity of vision. Polarisation works by blocking out light reflected from horizontal surfaces to reduce glare. They can be especially useful for people with certain eye conditions that make them more sensitive to light, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and uveitis (a type of eye inflammation), and for people who play sports like skiing, water sports or cycling – where they are exposed to a lot of refracted light.

Should I still wear sunglasses in winter?

It’s important to wear sunglasses all year around (not just when it’s sunny) to protect your eyes from the UV rays the sun emits – and don’t forget that it is detrimental to your eye health to look directly at the sun.

Hailey Bieber is often seen sporting trendy sunglasses. (Credit: Instagram)

Do I need to wear sunnies in the shade or when it is cloudy?

You should wear sunglasses even if it is cloudy, as more than 90 per cent of UV can pass through clouds. Outdoor materials such as pavement and snow also reflect a substantial amount of UV rays into the eyes, so it’s important to wear sunglasses whenever you find yourself outdoors for extended periods of time.

What should I do if I’m worried about my eyes?

If you are worried about your eyes or experience any changes to your sight, the best thing to do is to see an optometrist. They’ll be able to identify issues and refer you on for further testing, if required.

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