The sun which according to the biblical teaching was instituted by God to illuminate planet earth on the fourth day of the creation week has helped human life in a plethora of ways.
Man has taken advantage of its health benefits while others have converted its powerful rays to create solar energy for home or professional purposes.
It has been the darling light for mankind since time immemorial to the extent that some are ignorant of its potentially harmful effects.
Some, especially from the African continent see no problem associated with directly looking at the summer sun with a naked eye ignorant of the fact that such “arrogance” may be calamitous at the end.
As summer has just arrived again on the African continent, it is of paramount importance that locals and visitors alike be wary of the dreadful effects of the sun’s rays on the human eye.
UVA rays pass through the cornea to reach the lens and retina inside the eyes. Over exposure to UVA radiation has been linked to the development of macular degeneration-damage to the retina that causes loss of central vision, and certain types of cataracts– a clouding of the lens that leads to a decrease in vision.
Cataracts are responsible for 51percent of world blindness, which represents about 20 million people according to a latest World Health Organisation assessment.
UVB rays are partially filtered by the ozone layer, but are more intense than UVA rays. They penetrate less deeply and are completely absorbed by the cornea. In short term doses, UVB rays have been known to cause “snow blindness,” a painful inflammation of the cornea that causes temporary vision loss.
Various eye problems have been associated with over exposure to UV radiation. For example, one UV-related problem is a growth called pterygium.
This growth begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. Eventually, the growth may block vision. It is more common in people who work outside in the sun and wind.
Current scientific evidence suggests that different forms of eye cancer may be associated with life-long exposure to the sun.
Melanoma is the most frequent malignant cancer of the eyeball and sometimes requires surgical removal. A common location for basal cell carcinoma is on the eyelids.
The million dollar question then becomes, how does one protect his eyes from the unforgiving effects of the blistering summer sun?
The eye occupies less than 2 percent of the whole body surface area, but it represents the sole organ system to allow the penetration of visible light deep into the human body so it needs as much protection as possible.
Like your skin, the eyes desperately need protection from the sun, so whether one is relaxing on some of Africa’s exquisite beaches or going for a drive, it is important to wear UV resistant sunglasses.
They are vital for keeping eyes safe from harmful UV rays and also protect the delicate skin surrounding your eyes.
But not any old pair of sun glasses will do; just as one would not wear plain aqueous cream to shield skin from the sun.
There is need to do some homework before investing in a pair of sunglasses that would provide sufficient protection for the eyes.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, individuals should look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, have lenses that are perfectly matched in colour and free of distortions and imperfections, have lenses that are grey for proper colour recognition and should have frames with a close-fitting wraparound style which provide the best protection as they limit the amount of stray sunlight that reaches the eyes from above and beyond the periphery of sunglass lenses.
While leading eye care experts unanimously agree that price is not an accurate indicator of sunglasses’ effectiveness, cheap glasses are likely to have poorly made lenses stamped out of a mould, rather than ones which have been professionally crafted and polished.
To test the effectiveness of the sunglasses one can carry out a simple test by concentrating on a straight, vertical line while wearing the sunglasses and move one’s head gently forwards and backwards, letting your focus move freely over the whole area of the lenses.
The appearance of a ripple or distortion in the line signifies an optical defect and should be avoided.
Enjoy life under the African sun while protecting yourself with sunglasses that are as stylish or sporty as you want them to be.