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40% of Brits are risking eye health with cheap products

COVER-UP: Sunglasses with UV protection are essential for enjoying bright skies

WARMER WEATHER is on the way and the sun is starting to make a more regular appearance – finally!

When it does start properly shining, being prepared is key and part of that is ensuring we have a good pair of sunglasses to hand. It’s not just our skin we need to protect from the sun’s rays, it’s our eyes too, as UV rays can penetrate the lenses of sunglasses if they’re not manufactured to a certain standard.

Online lighting superstore Scotlight Direct wanted to find out how much Brits really knew about their eye health and the damage the sun can do to them and on what basis we choose our sunglasses.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, they found that over 40% of people in the UK own a pair of replica sunglasses – cheaper copies of classic designer brands. While these may look good – who doesn’t fancy sporting a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers or Aviators and looking as cool as James Dean – if they’re not the real things and don’t carry proper UV protection, there is a risk of causing real damage to your sight: the eyes are especially susceptible to the sun because of the transparency of the outer tissues. Long-term exposure can speed up ageing of the macula, the most sensitive part of the retina and can also lead to cataracts.

It appears there is a lack of understanding over exactly what types of lenses will protect the eyes - 49% of respondents believe that darker lenses provide more protection – even though that’s not actually the case. Over half (56%) don’t actually even know whether the sunglasses they currently own offer high UV protection.

Polarised lenses offer the maximum protection, but don’t come cheap; usually they’re around £30 more expensive. On average, those surveyed say they’d only be prepared to spend up to £12 more for a pair which had polarised lenses. If you do make the investment, be prepared to pay out again two years later; research has found you should change your sunglasses that regularly, as UV rays damage the lenses. Worryingly, over a third of Brits don’t replace their sunnies after two years and 11% don’t even replace them after six years.

Of those who buy their sunglasses purely for style and not for health benefits, 44% are males and 56% are females. Although, while you’d expect it to be fashion conscious millennials who are more likely to buy for style, rather than their health, it’s actually the 35-44 year age group.

"It seems like we all need to be a bit more clued up about our eye health during the summer," says Andrew Fraser from Scotlight Direct.

"It’s fantastic when the sun shines, but we should never risk our sight for the sake of looking good."


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