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UV PROTECTION EXPLAINED!

If you’ve been looking for a new pair of sunglasses recently, you will have noticed that many sunglasses and eyewear manufacturers claim to offer ‘UV’ Protection, but what does this mean?

UV protection is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a new pair of sunglasses, so let us break down what UV is, and why it’s important to protect your eyes from it!

WHAT DOES 'UV' MEAN?

Blue sky with sun shining through clouds.

Ultraviolet radiation travels in rays from the sun.

Ultraviolet, or UV, is a type of radiation that comes from the sun’s nuclear reactions, as well as artificial sources, including tanning beds, black lights and lasers, that travel in three types of rays; UVA, UVB and UVC.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UVA AND UVB RADIATION?

Sunglasses in white studio with purple reflection on lenses

Ultraviolet radiation travels to Earth in UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

UVA rays make up 95% of the ultraviolet light that reaches Earth from our Sun, thanks to the way they travel in long, high-energy waves, with much greater penetration power than UVB rays. These waves travel straight through our atmosphere and even cloud cover, reaching deep into the layers of our skin. These rays then cause damage to the cells genetic material and degrade the skin’s collagen and elastin, causing it to age and wrinkle early. UVA is the main type of light used in tanning beds, thanks to the way it quickly causes your skin to tan.

UVB waves make up around 5% of Ultraviolet radiation that reaches Earth, which travels in much shorter, lower-energy waves that damage the outermost layers of our skin. These waves don’t penetrate windows and are more likely to be filtered out by clouds. UVB waves are responsible for most skin cancers, as well as causing a delayed sunburn, which usually appears a few hours after exposure to the sun.

In short, UVA ages your skin, while UVB burns it! Think A for 'ages', B for 'burns'!

WHAT ARE UVC RAYS?

The Sun also emits UVC rays, which have the shortest wavelengths and the highest energy levels out of the 3 types of UV rays, which can cause severe damage to your skin and eyes, including burns, lesions and ulcers. Thankfully these harmful rays are completely filtered out by the ozone layer in our atmosphere, however, there are some artificial sources of UVC, like welding torches, bacteria-killing lightbulbs, and mercury lamps. 

IS UV RADIATION BAD FOR EYES?

girl holding blue sunglasses out in front of her face.

Protecting your eyes from sunlight is just as important as protecting your skin. 

We are all well aware of ways to protect our skin from getting burnt in the sun; covering up, wearing suncream etc, but our eyes are actually 10 times more sensitive to UV light than our skin!

UV radiation can cause both long-term and short-term damage to our eyes. The surface of our eyes, as well as our corneas and lenses, are all at risk of being burnt like our skin, but long-term exposure to UV radiation can be even more serious.

Prolonged exposure to UV rays can permanently damage your eyes and make them more likely to get cataracts; a gradual clouding of the eye lens which leads to blurry vision, or even a gradual loss of vision in the centre of your eye (macular degeneration). These risks are why it is so important that you ensure your sunglasses have proper UV protection.

Children’s eyes are even more susceptible to UV damage, as they have larger pupils and clearer lenses, meaning up to 70% more UV light can reach their retinas!

WHEN AM I AT RISK OF UV EXPOSURE?

There are lots of different factors that can affect how powerful UV rays are, including:

  • Time of Day – Between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its highest in the sky, the sun’s rays have less distance to cover, making them more powerful.
  • Season – Sun exposure is at its highest during Spring and Summer, however, you should still take precautions against the sun in Autumn and Winter.
  • Cloud Cover – Clouds can filter some UV rays from reaching the ground, particularly darker rainclouds filled with water.
  • Reflective surfaces – UV Rays reflect off of most surfaces, including water, snow, pavements and roads. Surfers are at particular risk to this, as the ocean's surface is reflecting additional rays into your eyes whilst you're scanning the horizon for waves. 

UV PROTECTING SUNGLASSES

black waterhaul sunglasses on sandy beach

Waterhaul sunglasses offer UVA / UVB 400 protection; the highest level of UV protection possible.

When it comes to protecting our eyes from the sunlight, many people gravitate towards ‘polarising’ sunglasses, which only reduce the glare being reflected into your eyes. Polarising lenses alone do not protect your eyes from UV rays, so instead, you first need to look out for sunglasses that specifically offer UV protection.

The highest level of UV protection in eyewear is UVA/UVB 400, which provides your eyes with nearly 100% protection from UV rays. You can also combine UV 400 protection with polarised lenses; a perfect combination for those who spend lots of time by the sea or snow!

All Waterhaul sunglasses come with UVA/UVB 400 protection, ensuring your eyes receive the best UV protection possible. Most of our sunglasses (excluding the Harlyn frame options) also offer polarising lenses too; making these the perfect sunglasses for beachgoers and surf & snow enthusiasts alike!

Keep your eyes protected with Waterhaul UVA/UVB protected sunglasses here!

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