A young woman on a sunny beach

Looking after your eyes in the sun

With the summer holiday season underway it’s important to take care of your eyes as well as your skin when holidaying or travelling in hot climates or sunbathing in the UK.

Excessive sun exposure can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and can even lead to blindness.

  • When buying sunglasses always look for the UV 400 mark to ensure they will protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

  • Look for the CE mark which indicates the sunglasses meet European standards.

  • Contact lenses with a UV filter do not offer full protection from the sun.

  • Fake sunglasses often provide little or no protection from the sun.

  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am-3pm when UV rays are most harmful.

  • Prolonged sun exposure could increase your risk of developing cataracts.

It’s extremely important to protect your eyes in the sun to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. You should buy sunglasses from a reputable retailer and check that they carry the CE mark to ensure that they will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Mr Raj Das-Bhaumik, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

Raj Das-Bhaumik, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, talks about the importance of protecting your eyes from UV rays during sunny days.

video transcript

I'm Raj Das-Bhaumik, I'm a consultant ophthalmic surgeon. I specialize in ophthalmic plastic surgery and emergency ophthalmology and I work here at Moorfields Eye Hospital. We don't often think about our eyes, and it's not until something goes wrong that we appreciate what we had it's really important to wear good quality sunglasses. By that I don't mean an expensive design pair but a pair that are safe and effective. You can check how safe they are by looking for the C Mark somewhere on the sunglasses and that tells you that both the frame and the lenses are made to a very high standard and will be ultraviolet protecting. 
Ultraviolet light damage to the eye may not be immediate and obvious. We know that it can build up over time so for example, long-term exposure to ultraviolet light can accelerate the formation of cataracts or tumors around the eyes or the development of a pterygium which is a fleshy mass on the inner corner of the eyes. It's really important to avoid wearing imitation sunglasses because you may be harming your eyes by wearing them. For example, if the imitation lenses are not effective ultraviolet filters and your pupils dilate under the dark glasses then more of these potentially harmful ultraviolet lights may enter the eye leading to damage to the structures of the eye.

Dasbhaumik, Raj

Written in association with

Mr Raj Das-Bhaumik

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Clinical Lead

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