In the hot summer months, chances are that you will spend more time in the sun, whether driving, playing sports or just enjoying a beautiful day outdoors. At the same time, your eyes will be exposed to direct sunlight, sun glare as well as damaging solar rays such as UV (ultraviolet) and HEV (high-energy visible) radiation which are major risk factors. This is why taking proper care of one’s eyes and remaining aware of the hazards that can affect good vision are vital, especially during the year’s sunniest season.

The new Mellins Vision Centre in Mossel Bay Mall has the following tips and information to help you maintain excellent vision:

Getting to grips with radiation: The sun emits different types of electromagnetic radiation, most of which are visible (HEV) light, UV rays, and infrared rays. While UV rays make up only a very small portion of the sun’s rays, they are the main cause of the sun’s damaging effects on the eyes. UV rays are an overload of energy that travels through an empty space creating an imbalance in the chemical structure of the body’s molecules, causing cell damage and deformities. As UV rays travel with sunlight, the rays can pierce through the thin layer of skin on the eyelids when the eyes are closed or partially closed, making it possible for the rays to reach the eye. The transparent lens and cornea help to protect the eyes by filtering the UV rays, but if direct light continuously reaches the eyes over long periods of time, this can lead to serious eye problems including:

Eyelid cancers.
Intraocular melanoma.
Macular degeneration.
Harmful growths on the surface of the eye. Pterygium or benign growths on the conjunctiva (the protective membrane that spans across the outside of the eye), usually occur at a later stage in life. These growths can negatively affect sight and may need to be removed surgically.
Keratitis (sunburn of the cornea).
Photokeratitis. When the eyes are exposed to high, short term dosages of UV rays, this can cause a painful inflammation of the cornea. Photokeratitis, also known as ‘snow blindness’, can cause instant vision loss for up to 24 to 48 hours.

Are polarised lenses your best weapon against harmful radiation? Tinted sunglasses may help to darken glare from the sun. Sharp light however can still obscure your vision and the lenses do not necessarily protect the eyes from harmful radiation. The best solution for protecting your eyes against damaging rays is polarised lenses that can block 100% UV radiation and absorb other detrimental light. Polarisation occurs when sunlight ‘ripples’ into various directions and hits a surface to cause a flux of light that reflects into one direction. When reflected from surfaces such as water, sea sand, the windshields of oncoming cars or wet pavements and roads, the polarised light can cause a blinding effect once it reaches your eyes. Polarised lenses eliminate much of these types of glare to improve contrast, make colours more brilliant and ensure outstanding vision, even under extreme light conditions. These lenses also protect you from eye fatigue because your eyes no longer have to adjust to constantly changing light conditions.

To best protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays when outdoors, make sure that you are equipped with good quality polarised sunglasses that can block 100% UV rays and absorb most HEV rays. It is also a good idea to keep your sunglasses on in the shade as although these cooler areas may reduce the effect of the damaging rays, it does not provide complete protection.

For more information, eye care tips and advice, contact Mellins Zeiss Vision Centre in Mossel Bay Mall at tel: 044 691 1010 or visit

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