A common misconception about UV protection
31st August 2021
A common misconception about UV protection is that darker tint sunglasses provide extra UV protection. However, there is no relationship between the colour or darkness of your sunglasses/eyewear and the amount of UV protection. The lens tint colour and shade intensity e.g. Category 3 only tell you how much visible light is blocked.
A sunglass UV filter is actually clear and most sunglasses today have UV protection embedded in the lens rather than coated over it. Some older, inexpensive sunglasses may have had the UV filter applied to the front of the lens – this means that with scratching the UV protection can reduce.
What to look for are sunglasses/eyewear labelled or marked CE UV400 which means they block over 99% of UVR. This rating ensures that all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometres, including both UVA and UVB rays, are blocked out. As the UV filter is clear it means that even clear lens eyewear (like safety eyewear) can provide 100% protection from UVR providing they are marked UV400. It’s worth noting that virtually all sports eyewear (except polarised models) use polycarbonate as the lens material and polycarbonate naturally blocks most UV light and do not need the application of a UV coating, although reputable eyewear manufacturers using polycarbonate additionally apply a UV filter coating.
Our summer here in the UK has had a lot of cloudy days but it’s important to bear in mind that even on overcast days we can still can get up to 90 percent of UV radiation and so UV rays on cloudy days are just as dangerous as they are on bright, sunny days. As our eyes are 10 times more sensitive to UV than our skin, more than any other organ the eye can suffer significant injury from the sun; so be sure to wear sunglasses and skin protection while outside at all times of the year.