Sunglasses, more than just a fashion statement

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Here’s what you need to know.

As you plan on spending more time outdoors, it's vital to protect your eyes from the harsh glare of the summer sun. Eye specialist Dr Sunetra Phadke says, “The sun's rays are strongest between 10am and 3pm. This period is critical for preventing damage to the retina due to UV rays.”

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Filter those rays

Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB can cause significant eye damage, from temporary discomfort to long-term vision problems. UV rays can cause painful "sunburn" of the eyes and have been linked to the development of cataracts.

Shades don't just make it easier for you to see things, they also sharpen your vision. “The reason we use sunglasses is to cut off excessive sunlight and filter the harmful rays of light. The use of a tinted glass dilates the pupil and allows more light to enter into the eye; so if the lens is not UV-protected, it will allow the harmful rays to enter the eye and do more harm,' says optometrist Dr Vipin Buckshey.

Always wear shades

Sunglasses are necessary even on cloudy days, since UV light can penetrate right through the clouds. Sunglasses with yellow lenses are useful in cloudy conditions, as they improve your depth of field. Says Dr Buckshey, “Clouds allow up to 80 percent of UV rays to reach our eyes. So photokeratitis can occur even in cloudy conditions.'

Choose the best lenses

With so many types of lenses to choose from, it's a good idea to get a professional optician to help you choose. Always go to reliable optical stores when buying expensive branded sunglasses, and insist on a bill with a warranty card of the company.

Grey, green or brown lenses: are for everyday use and while driving. These colours soften the sun's glare without distorting colour vision.

Photo-chromatic lenses: They turn dark in the sun and light indoors, work by adjusting their tint based on the amount of UV light they're exposed to.

Amber and orange lenses: These sharpen vision by absorbing most of the blue and green wavelengths in sunlight (also known as blue blockers). (Research indicates that blue light increases eye damage.) These lenses can make the colours of traffic signals hard to distinguish.

Polaroid lenses: They cut reflected glare, making them excellent for driving and water sports.

Mirror-coated lenses: These limit light entering your eyes.

Polycarbonate lenses: These are the real "super heroes" of eye protection as they block 100 percent of the sun's UV rays, says Dr Rajesh Wadhwa.

Celebs and their shades 

Khanyi Mbau 

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Zola Nombona

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Dineo Moeketsi

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Bonang Matheba

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Thembi Seete

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Nhlanhla Nciza

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