Light-Coloured Irish Irish More Vulnerable to UV-Related Eye Disease

Eye Doctors Encourage Parents to Protect Children’s Eyes with CE Marked Sunglasses

With the summer finally upon us and the hope of some lovely sunshine to enjoy, the Eye Doctors of Ireland are reminding people to make sure they check for the CE Mark[1] on sunglasses before they buy the essential summer accessory.

The country’s expert body on eye health, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO), recommends you shop smart when buying sunglasses for all the family by checking the glasses meet the European safety standard which the CE Mark guarantees.

The ICO urge people to be aware of the heightened risk of exposure to UV damage as a result of having light coloured eyes as we enter the summer months when UV levels are at least three times higher than in winter.

Just as fair skin can be more vulnerable to skin cancers, studies have shown that those of us with lighter coloured eyes are more susceptible to ultra violet (UV) damage from the sun and can be at greater risk of developing eye diseases such as cataract in later life as a result.

Most people are sun smart these days and aware of the damaging effect the sun has on our skin but we have a way to go yet in educating people on the risks of UV damage to our eye health.   You would not buy a sun cream that did not have a sun factor in it so why buy shade’s that haven’t got the essential UV protection that the CE mark guarantees!  While people with eyes of any colour can develop UV-related eye diseases, light eyes and sun exposure are associated with an increased risk of eye damage.

Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) recommend that all individuals, especially those with increased photosensitivity, wear 100 percent UV-safe sunglasses.

The ICO also highlights the importance of parents taking care of their children’s eyes against the harmful effects of UV radiation.

 A lot of high street stores sell cute little styles aimed at young children for the summer months but parents need to look for the CE Mark.  As cute as the glasses are and we all like to wear fashionable shades, unfortunately without the UV factor protection the CE mark guarantees, there is no eye health benefit to children wearing the lenses

The ICO is encouraging parents to get their children into the habit of wearing UV-blocking sunglasses from an early age so it becomes habit, saying that “wearing sunglasses is one of the easiest and the most important things children and adults can do to protect their eye health.”

The message from eye doctors is that, just as you would apply sun factor to protect your skin in the sun, wearing sunglasses with 100 percent UV block will help to protect your eyes in the long term.

Tips to Protecting Your Eyes in the Sun

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists recommends the following tips to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultra violet rays:

  • Choose glasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.  Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and carry the CE Mark.  Don’t go by darkness of the lenses, which doesn’t indicate strength of UV protection.
  • Bigger is better.  Close-fitting wraparound styles are shaped to keep light from shining around the frames and into your eyes, protecting eyes from all angles and offering the best eye area coverage. 
  • Wear sunglasses all year around even if it’s cloudy. Damaging UV rays go through clouds and can burn skin and eyes even when the sky is overcast.   Wear them all year around but especially in the summer with UV levels are at least three times higher than in winter.
  • Put a lid on it. Wear a hat with a wide brim as well as sunglasses and sunscreen. Studies have shown hats decrease the risk of eye disease related to extended UV exposure.
  • Pills and rays don’t always mix.  Certain medications may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so take extra precautions if using those treatments.
  • Watch out for sun, sand and water. When at the beach or in the pool, remember that rays reflected off sand, water or pavement can burn your eyes.
  • Don’t rely on contact lenses. Contact lenses may have UV protection but cannot protect the entire eye area from burning rays that can increase risk of disease and blindness. Remember your sunglasses, which provide more coverage.  

[1] The CE marking is the manufacturer's declaration that the product meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives.

In the case of sunglasses, the European standard EN 1836:2005 has four transmittance ratings: "0" for insufficient UV protection, "2" for sufficient UHV protection, "6" for good UHV protection and "7" for "full" UHVV protection, meaning that no more than 5% of the 380 nm rays are transmitted. Products which fulfill the standard receive a CE mark

14th June 2023