Sun Awareness Week: eye health

As we start to enjoy the arrival of Spring with any luck the sun will start shining through and give us warmer weather to enjoy the longer days.

We’re all looking forward to shedding the winter layers and reaching for the sun cream to protect our skin from UVA and UVB rays from the sun. 

One thing we may not consider is the damage those same rays can do to our eyes. It is important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to shield your eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure. The damage caused can take years to materialise and, by the time we notice the damage, it is often too late to reverse the effects. 

Some of the conditions caused by UVA and UVB rays are: 

  • Cataracts:  The most common cause of treatable sight loss and blindness, cataracts cloud and yellow the lens of your eye, causing progressive vision loss. 
  • Macular degeneration:  A major cause of vision loss for people over age 60, macular degeneration is caused by cumulative UV damage to the central portion of the retina, the back layer inside each eye that records what we see and sends it to your brain. 
  • Keratitis, or corneal sunburn: UV exposure can cause painful burning of the cornea, the clear surface that admits light and images to the retina. Also known as “snowblindness”, this condition occurs in skiers and hikers because of the sun’s intensity at altitudes and its reflective nature off water, snow and ice. 
  • Conjunctival cancers: although rare, these eye cancers are increasing, especially among older people. 

The best way to protect your eyes in the sun would be to avoid direct exposure although, even in this country, this can be quite difficult. You can wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays; any reputable company will have this as standard. Prescription glasses can include a polarising tint that offers protection too. Hats with a good sized brim will provide shade for your eyes and the skin around them. Being aware of your surroundings and weather changes is great too as with cloud cover we often forget that harmful rays can still get through. Crucially bear in mind that, even if it is not hot in the sun, damage can still happen. 

SSW has Cocoon branded sunglasses available in the centre for £45 (RRP £59.99). Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Advice Health

Tips for eye health at work

by Alison Bates, Tech Adviser

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Although there are a huge range of settings for work, we are generally becoming more reliant on digital technology. This can result in extended time in front of a screen which can cause eye strain, headaches, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

Thankfully, there are many ways we can prevent these symptoms and here are a few suggestions:

Good posture

Sit making sure your head and neck are upright and in-line with your torso, not bent down or leaning back. Face your screen directly in front and position the screen around 25 inches (roughly an arm’s length away).


Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a rest from the screen for a suitable amount of time.

Device settings

There are a number of ways you can make your computer, tablet or phone better for your eyes. You can raise the contrast on your screen. Perhaps make the text larger which can reduce strain, and also change the brightness of the screen. It shouldn’t be lighter or darker than your surroundings.

You can also lower the colour temperature of your screen. That means it will give off less blue light, which is linked to more eye strain.

Get regular eye tests

Regular eye tests are essential for maintaining eye health at work; you should have one every two years unless your eye care specialist recommends you have them more regularly.

Many workplaces will cover the cost of your test and may help towards the cost of any glasses needed so it is worth checking with your HR department.

At Sight Support Worthing we encourage our staff to maintain good eye health by covering the cost of an eye test and pay towards any glasses needed. 

“People often take their vision for granted, but problems with eyesight can occur at any time in your life. As a sight loss charity, we ensure our team take regular screen breaks and keep up to date with routine eye tests but it's really something all employers should be doing. The people are the most important part of any organisation, and their sight is often critical to the work they do so it makes sense to protect the eyes as the most important resource.”

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