09.12.2011

Sunglasses "an essential piece of kit" for winter travel

Sunglasses "an essential piece of kit" for winter travel

By Alexa Kaczka

People heading away in the near future have been advised to pack sunglasses in their suitcase, even if they think they will not be visiting a sunny clime.

This is because the effects of the sun can be just as harmful in the colder months as the hot ones, with vision still susceptible to UV rays, explained Ed Greene, chief executive of The Vision Council.

He explained that some winter conditions heighten susceptibility to UV damage, particularly for those engaged in high-altitude sports or activities which involve snow or ice.

The reason for this is that fresh snow reflects nearly 80 per cent of UV radiation, while UV rays can also bounce back off frozen water, which doubles exposure.

Under clear skies, altitude increases exposure to UV radiation by an intensity of 16 per cent for every 1,000 meters above sea level, the expert pointed out.

"No matter where you are travelling this winter, the risk of damage to eyes from unprotected UV exposure is still present. The Vision Council wants people to be aware of the potential for UV damage from participating in outdoor winter sports and other winter getaways," Mr Greene said.

The specialist also noted that overexposure to UV radiation can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, two of the leading causes of vision loss among older people.

A further danger is snow blindness, with symptoms such as redness, puffiness around the eyes, burning, watering and sensitivity to light, he added.

As there are many winter activities in which there is an increased risk of UV exposure, anyone participating in outdoor activities should protect their eyes by wearing appropriate UV protection.

Using the likes of UV contact lenses or sunglasses with ample protection are both effective ways of making sure eyes are kept safe this winter and beyond, The Vision Council noted.

by Adrian Galbreth


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