UV radiation not only causes sunburn and skin damage leading to skin cancer. It can also cause serious eye conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration and ocular melanoma.
Wearing a broad-brim hat can cut the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes by 50%.
Wearing both a broad-brim hat and sunglasses can reduce UV rays to the eyes by up to 98%.
For the best protection when the UV is 3 and above, use all five forms of sun protection – clothing, sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat, shade and sunglasses.
Choosing sun-protective glasses
- Choose a close-fitting, wrap-around style of sunglasses.
- Check the swing tag to make sure they meet the Australian Standard for eye protection (AS/NZS1067). The Standard has five categories of sun protection – choose category 2 or higher. These lenses absorb more than 95% of UV radiation.
- Some sunglasses carry an Eye Protection Factor (EPF). Ratings of EPF 9 and 10 provide excellent protection, blocking almost all UV radiation.
- Polarised sunglasses reduce glare and make it easier to see on a sunny day however they do not increase the level of UV protection.
- The Australian Standard for sunglasses and fashion spectacles does not cover prescription glasses. Some prescription glasses provide UV radiation protection – check with your optometrist. If purchasing prescription sunglasses, make sure they are close-fitting and a wrap-around style.
Tips for parents and carers
Sunglasses designed for babies and toddlers may have soft elastic to keep them in place. It is important to choose a style that stays on securely so that the arms don't become a safety hazard.
Some young children may be reluctant to wear sunglasses. You can still help to protect their eyes by putting on a broad-brimmed hat and staying in the shade.
Toy sunglasses do not meet the requirements under the Australian Standard and should not be used for sun protection.
Eye protection for outdoor workers
Some outdoor workers need protection for their eyes. Tinted eye protectors that meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS1337.1: (Eye and face protectors for occupational applications) provide sun protection, and reduce glare outside. Untinted eye protectors marked 'O' also have sufficient UV protection for outdoor use.
Sunglasses which meet the AS1067 standard, worn together with a broad brimmed hat, can reduce the amount of UV reaching the eyes by up to 98%.
If you need eye protection at work, sunglasses which comply with both the AS1067 and AS/NZS1337 should be worn.