As we prepare for the northern hemispheres summer solstice, we celebrate Sun Protection Week and Sunscreen Day, let us talk about common misperceptions about the need for sun protection, not just during the summer season but throughout the year. And we emphasize the need for sun protection not only if on the beach, out in nature, or while performing sport activities but also when out about in the city, driving to the market or sitting in an outdoor café.
The sun emits three kinds of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. While UVC is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, UVB radiation is only partially blocked and can burn the skin and eyes. UVA rays are not filtered and cause the most damage to vision and ageing of the skin.
FACT: Left unprotected, over exposure to UV rays emitted from the sun is harmful to our eyes, causes sunburn and skin cancer and the risk of damage of our eyes and skin from solar UV radiation accumulates, so eye damage increases the more time you spend in sunlight, starting from the earliest age and continues throughout your lifetime.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUN PROTECTION FOR YOUR EYES AND FOR YOUR SKIN:
- You Only Need to Worry About Ultraviolet Light in the Summer
Easy to think that the sun is brighter in the summer than in the winter and that thus we need to protect our eyes and our skin from the damaging rays.
The reality is that we are simply more conscious of the harmful ultraviolet rays at the height of those 90-degree days in the summer. UV radiation is present year-round despite the season or weather. So, it is important to wear proper eye and skin protection when outdoors in the daylight and for all activities.
- The darkness of the sun lens determines the level of UV protection
Dark lenses without adequate UV protection can be worse than wearing no sunglasses at all because they cause the eye’s pupil to dilate, which then increases retinal exposure to unfiltered UV.
- All sunglasses offer UVA and UVB protection
Emphatically no. It is crucial to look for a label, tag or sticker indicating the level of UV protection and be sure to purchase your sunglasses from a reputable source.
- More expensive sunglasses block more UV light
Also, not true. In this case the more you pay does not equate to better UV protection. Make sure the glasses you purchase are 100% UVA and UVB protection
- All eye colors have the same risk of damage from harmful UV rays
On this point we are not all are equal. People with light-colored eyes, such as green or blue, are at higher risk for damage from UV light.
- People with darker skin tones do not need sunscreen.
No matter your skin tone all are susceptible to sunburn and skin damage. However, it can be more difficult to see sun damage on darker skin.
- If using a sunscreen SPF 50 you need no wear as much or re-apply
Not so. No matter what SPF you use, your sunscreen is only going to last for two to four hours, so you still need to re-apply.
- If my sunscreen says it is waterproof, I need not re-apply
In fact, there is no such thing as 100% waterproof sunscreen. Water resistant, yes, waterproof, no!
- All sunscreen is the same
There is a common misconception that all sunscreen is the same and will do the same job. There are a variety of ingredients in sunscreens, however, and they may protect against different levels of sun exposure. Sunscreens are available in chemical and mineral form. Using a full spectrum sunscreen is important because it will protect the skin against the largest range of UV light.
Sources: The Vision Council.MedicalNewsToday