July 24, 2007


Start wearing sunglasses early, and they may help to preserve your sight in later life (Jeremy Laurance, 24 July 2007, Independent)

Age-related macular degeneration affects about 500,000 people in the UK. It occurs when cells in the centre of the retina at the back of the eye become damaged. Symptoms are the loss of central vision and visual distortion. Both conditions are most common in the elderly – and as we live longer, the numbers affected are growing. The eyes, in common with other organs, need protection if they are to last. Some eye specialists say that protecting the eyes of children is the most effective way to prolong 20-20 vision into old age.

Ian Anderson, an optometrist and the chairman of the Eyecare Trust, a charity devoted to promoting eye health, said: "Your eyes can be damaged by ultraviolet light. There are two types in sunlight – UVA and UVB. UVA sunlight penetrates quite deeply and can damage the lens and the retina. People should be aware that they need to wear dark glasses and do more to protect their eyes."

People who have fair skin are at greatest risk. They have less pigment and their eyes are thus most vulnerable to UV light, while dark-skinned people are better protected.

But it is a myth that blue-eyed people are more sensitive to light and therefore more vulnerable to eye damage. The iris is almost opaque, although there are differences in the amount of pigment in the retina, Anderson said.

Children are worse off because their eyes are young and the lens and vitreous – the fluid behind the lens – are clearer, so the light goes straight through and goes on to hit the retina.

"Children need sunglasses, but parents need to be careful that they are not toys with tinted lenses. That causes the iris to open and let more light through. Parents need to be very careful to buy sunglasses with the right CE marking to show that they filter out UV light. It is more important to wear sunglasses when young to protect the eyes."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2007 8:42 AM

FYI, I think the newer progressive lenses are made of a material - be it tinted or clear, either way - that blocks some 99% of UV rays anyway.

Posted by: ras at July 24, 2007 1:21 PM

Graet - now yuo tele em!

Posted by: obc at July 24, 2007 3:58 PM

Yup, but check with your optometrist first, of course, just in case different manufacturers use different materials.

My own macular degen is just starting, and I don't like sunglasses, so using UV-blocking clear lenses were a no-brainer for me. Their de facto use of the blocking material was a bonus that saved me having to get my lenses treated to accomplish the same thing.

Posted by: ras at July 24, 2007 4:02 PM

I couldn't function outdoors without sunglasses. Squint headaches are hard to get rid of.

oj: Any word on the British Open pool?

Posted by: Bartman at July 24, 2007 5:23 PM

. . . then we would have ended up looking like Canada - no thanks!

Posted by: obc at July 24, 2007 8:03 PM

I depend on others to do the math.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2007 11:17 PM

My team shot a combined 838 (Harrington, Els, Woods)...

Posted by: Bartman at July 25, 2007 7:55 AM