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Eye on the sky

26 July 2023

While the sun is a welcome sight for many, it's easy to overlook the importance of shielding the eyes from its damaging effects. Clair Weston highlights some key factors to consider to keep eyes safe in the sun.

WE ARE all familiar with the harmful effects the sun can have on our skin, but the eye is the organ most susceptible to damage caused by sunlight. The World Health Organisation (WHO), estimates that 15 million people worldwide are blind due to cataracts; of these, 10% may be as a direct result of overexposure to UV radiation. 

UV-related eye damage is easily preventable using proper protective eyewear, but with the requirements of reliable eye protection so varied, selecting the best product for the job calls for a more detailed analysis.


In sunny conditions, safety eyewear should fulfil a number of functions. First and foremost, it should protect from impact based on the risk assessment. Secondly, it should protect against the damaging effects of UV radiation and thirdly prevent glare in bright sunlight. 

UV consists of three types of rays with wave frequency measured in nanometres (nm). While UVC rays have the highest energy levels (100nm – 280nm), they are virtually all absorbed by the ozone layer reducing the potential for harm. UVB rays (280nm – 320nm) are partially filtered, leaving some rays to reach the eyes, which may cause corneal problems, distorted vision and conditions such as photokeratitis (also known as sun or snow blindness). UVA rays (320 – 400nm) can pass through the cornea, and overexposure is linked to the development of certain types of cataracts.

The EN166/170 standard specifies safety eyewear should provide UV protection up to 380nm. However, the WHO, and latest scientific studies, state that this level of protection is insufficient and recommend safety eyewear lenses provide UV protection up to 400nm. 

It's worth remembering that UV light is not visible, and UV protection isn't linked to the depth of lens shade, which offers its own function in preventing brightness and glare. All uvex safety eyewear has UV absorption incorporated in the lens, which filters 100% of UVA, UVB and UVC rays up to 400nm. 


Preventing glare and reducing brightness also play an essential role in safety eyewear. Inadequate glare prevention can lead to adverse physical effects, including temporary blindness, headaches, and reduced visual acuity. And when glare makes it particularly difficult to see clearly, there is an increased risk of accidents or injuries, especially when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Polarising filters are commonly used to reduce glare and improve visual clarity. uvex's twin-lensed polavision sun spectacles have a polarising filter to help darken bright skies, manage reflections from bright and polished surfaces and reduce glare from wet surfaces and water, making it extremely well suited to outdoor environments such as construction, maritime and offshore oil and gas industries. 

The working environment should influence the lens shade(s) selected. For example, uvex's CBR65 award-winning lens tint technology protects wearers working indoors or outdoors for long hours under harsh light conditions.

Lens coatings

Hi-tech, permanent lens coatings on safety eyewear can be used to improve vision in or out of the sun and protect against fogging, scratching, liquids glare, dust and molten metal and hot solids. The coatings also keep the lenses of the eyewear cleaner for longer.

Different work environments require different lens coatings for their safety eyewear. uvex has developed three core lens coatings and several special coatings, with individual formulas to allow bespoke combinations for maximum effectiveness.

Style and fit

One thing to remember with all PPE is that one size does not fit all. Employee involvement in the selection process can help ensure a proper fit, which is crucial for the wearer's safety and regulatory compliance, and increase the likelihood that eyewear stays worn throughout the working day. A good fit also considers the 'wearability' of safety eyewear, which improves comfort and ensures eyewear stays put. Different styles provide different functions; for example, wraparound style safety sunglasses can offer increased protection from harmful UV radiation as well as wind and dust.

Trusted products

There's no disputing the role that safety eyewear can provide in sun protection, but it pays to put your trust in products that deliver on their reputation for choice, performance and compliance. uvex, whose name is derived from ultravioletexclusion, are market leaders in recognising the damage of UV exposure and developing technology which protects against it. Their products also offer superior user comfort and wearability, with styles and designs to ensure there is something for everyone.


Safety eyewear is vital for protecting workers from the short and long-term damage to their vision caused by the sun. However, paying close attention to selecting the right type for your work environment will also enhance overall workplace safety, ensure compliance with legislation and generate a happy and more productive workforce.

Clair Weston is marketing manager at uvex (UK). For more information, visit www.uvex-safety.co.uk/en/