Most people are aware about the danger of sun exposure to the skin, but many are not aware that the sun’s rays can also damage human eyes. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun may be dangerous to the eyes, especially when it’s very sunny. Sunglasses play a key role in protecting the eyes in two important ways; they filter light and protect the eyes from damaging UV rays.
To provide the necessary protection, sunglasses need to meet safety requirements and protect the wearer adequately to prevent serious eye problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or skin cancer around the eyelids.
With these risks to healthy eyes in mind, it is important that consumers are well informed on the type of protection their sunglasses offer. This can affect their ability to filter UV rays and polarisation, which reduces glare from light reflecting off surfaces like water and glass.
As result of European Union safety standards, glasses that are available to buy in Ireland must contain:
- A CE mark that is visible, legible and indelibly marked on the glasses, indicating they meet European safety standards and that they have passed the necessary tests
- The class of protection – between 0 (meaning no UV protection) and 4 (meaning full UV protection)
- An information note, attached to the sunglasses, containing the model, the name and address of the manufacturer, reference to the standard I.S. EN ISO 12312-1:2013, type and category of filters and the instructions for cleaning. For category 4 filter glasses, which is the highest filtering level, it should contain a warning that the user should not drive wearing these sunglasses.