Protecting the eyes from sun exposure

SunglassesEmployers have responsibilities to employees regarding all ‘at work’ activities. With the summer finally seeming to have started in earnest, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is encouraging employers to consider eye care as part of their sun protection policy.

The following facts and myths will help employers and employees to understand the issues:

It is the skin that is in most danger from the sun

False: UV rays can be as harmful to your eyes as they are to your skin.

The sun does not cause any long-term damage to the eyes

False: Ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun can cause short- and long-term eye damage including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause a painful sunburn-like inflammation of the cornea at the front of the eye. This can greatly increase the risk of developing more serious, even sight-threatening, conditions in the future.

All sun glasses offer the same protection

False: Poor quality sunglasses may cause the pupil to dilate, actually increasing the amount of UV light filtering into the eyes. Check sunglasses comply with BSEN 1836: 1997, or bear the CE kite mark and are marked UV 400.

Dangers from the sun can be reduced by polarised lenses

True: Polarised lenses use a layer of iodine crystals to absorb the glare. Non-polarised sunglasses will only have a minimal effect, even though they will reduce the amount of visible light.

The eyelids are particularly prone to cancer

True: This is because the skin is thinner here than on most of the rest of the body. Good quality sunglasses will also protect the delicate skin surrounding the eyes.

The style of sunglasses is irrelevant

False: The larger the lens, the more protection they will give the eyes as there is less chance that light will filter in through the sides.

Opticians only advise on vision

False: An optician is there to provide advice on all aspects of eyecare and not just to provide glasses for those with visual difficulties. Opticians will be best placed to advise on the type of sunglasses for the employee’s needs in terms of protection, comfort and appearance. They may even offer to check the amount of UV protection being offered by the employee’s existing sunglasses.

Sunglasses do not count as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

False: Sunglasses may not be the first thought for employers regarding PPE, but they are a valid requirement for many employees who work outside or drive.

Sunglasses can be a valued employee benefit

True: Employers are in a position to be able to protect the eyesight of their employees while providing a cost-effective employee benefit. Sunglasses do not need to be expensive and may provide a small but highly-appreciated additional benefit.

Having sun protection means carrying two pairs of glasses

False: For everyday glasses wearers, sunglasses are also available with prescription lenses. Or, select photochromic lenses, which instantly adapt to light changes, darkening in bright light.

As we’re approaching the summer months, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is encouraging employers to consider the importance of eye protection from the sun for their employees. There can be misunderstanding around exactly how vulnerable the eyes can be, and the right advice and help is particularly important at this time.

For more information visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate.