With the UV Index often exceeding 11 in New Zealand, we are all aware how dangerous UV rays from the scorching sun can be for the skin. However, it’s not just the skin that is in danger, but eyes as well.

The best way to stay safe is to avoid sunshine, which is usually most intense from 10 am to 2 pm. In some places it is impossible to totally avoid exposure to the sun and high doses of UV rays at least occasionally. This makes it all the more important to protect your eyes agains UV radiation.

Research shows that too much exposure to UV rays may contribute to the formation of cataracts and other eye diseases that eventually require surgery. Permanent eye damage and even blindness are not ruled out. Many problems only manifest later in life, such as age related macular degeneration.

To reduce risk of cancer, it is best to reduce exposure to UV radiation as much as possible. It is also recommended to wear close-fitting, wrap around style sunglasses.

However, contact lenses may offer some help as well.

Combine Sunglasses with Contact Lenses

Contact lenses that offer protection against UV rays have been in the market for some years now.

Non-UV contact lenses already offer some help, blocking around 10% of UV-A rays and up to 30% of UV-B radiation, but this cannot be considered adequate. Luckily contact lens manufacturers have taken the issue seriously, and many different UV protective lenses are now available. All Acuvue contact lenses include UV protection, with Acuvue TruEye for example blocking 100% of UV-B and more than 96% of UV-A radiation.

Contact lenses alone do not offer sufficient protection by themselves, as they do not cover the whole eye due to their relatively small size. Nor do they help against eye lid melanoma, for example. Still, contact lenses complete the UV shield offered by sunglasses in important ways.

The best way to stay safe is to wear both UV protective contact lenses together with high-quality sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 for sunglasses.