Study reports a third of Brits risk their sight in the sun

Vision Express urges the public to protect their eyes in the sun following new research

Family playing in the sun wearing sunglasses

More than a third of Brits are risking their sight by failing to ensure that their eyes are properly protected in the sun, new research released by Vision Express has found.

The online survey of 800 people reported that 37% of sunglasses-wearers ‘don’t always’ check the UV rating of lenses, despite 94% saying it’s important to do so. Overall, those surveyed held the assumption that all sunglasses carry full UVA and UVB protection.

Referring to the research, Omar Hassan, head of professional services at Vision Express, said: “Our concern highlighted by the research is that people are prioritising style over safety, mistakenly believing that all sunglasses are made to an equal standard to block all harmful UV rays. This just isn’t the case. It’s a huge problem because wearing tinted lenses with no protection ‘tricks’ the pupil into dilating and ultimately may cause more damage to the retina than no protection at all.”

He added: “A good pair of sunglasses will filter both UVA and UVB and significantly reduce the risk of eye conditions impacted by exposure to sun rays – this includes cataracts and macular degeneration – which can cause blindness. It’s estimated that every year three million people lose their sight due to prolonged exposure to UV, so while sun-safety is important for our skin, it’s crucial to protect the eyes too. Anyone buying sunglasses off the shelf without prescription should use a reputable retailer and check the frames are CE marked as UV400.”

Offering the public tips on protecting their eyes from UV rays, Vision Express advised checking for quality stamps confirming frames meet British Standards and having them fitted by an expert. It also stressed the importance of ensuring they wear sunglasses all year-round, highlighting that winter sun can also be harmful.