CDA Reminds Canadians Sunglasses Are More Than Style

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sunglasses help protecct your eyesAs Albertans and motorists in general don their shades this summer, the Canadian Dermatology Association reminds them that they're a whole lot more than a fashion statement and ought to be selected based on additional factors other than style.

Gordon Searles, president of the CDA, noted that the eyes are perhaps the most delicate, vulnerable parts of the body and can be damaged irreversibly if they're not appropriately cared for.

"I know first-hand the detrimenal effects of what too much UV radiation can mean to our eyes, as I lost my left eye as a result of an invasive basal cell carcinoma a number of years ago," said Searles.

Paul Rafuse, president of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, noted that while the eyes themselves can be damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays, so too can the eyelids. From basal cell carcinoma, melanoma to squamous cell carcinoma, they often first form at the corner of the eyelids and eventually become malignant if they're not attended to quickly.

Sunglasses Help Prevent Ocular Melanoma

Melanoma is typically found on other parts of the body that are routinely exposed to the skin - such as the arms, legs and neck - but it can be found in the eyes as well. According to the American Melanoma Foundation, in the U.S., there are about 2,500 new cases of ocular melanoma on an annual basis, often occurring in the summer when people are outside more frequently because of the warm weather.

Not only are sunglasses critical for eye protection, but they may also help motorists avoid an Alberta car insurance claim due to an accident resulting from solar glare. In 2004, researchers from the national center for Statistics and Analysis - in consultation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - conducted a study about how solar glare that can get into the eyes of people when driving can lead to an increased risk of being involved in a crash.

"The results of this study … indicate that glare from headlamps as well as sunlight is a contributing factor in crashes," the report concluded. "These crashes show particular patterns with respect to driver, vehicle, and roadway. For example, in general, older drivers are more likely to get involved in crashes if glare obstructs their vision. Similarly, most of such drivers end up striking other vehicles, especially if the trafficway is not physically divided."

It added that multiple factors play into the overall probability with which a motorist could be involved in a crash due to glare, including the motorist's age, travel speed, time of day and the number of lanes that are on a given highway.

"What is needed is a common approach to both headlamp and sunlight glare and develop countermeasures to reduce glare before it strikes drivers' eyes," the report stated.

Polarized Sunglasses Help Reduce Glare

Though brand can have an effect on the price of sunglasses, so can the quality of lenses, such as whether they are polarized. Sunglasses that are polarized are specially designed to reduce the glare that results from the sun shining off of various surfaces, such as water or car parts.

Albertans may want to be particularly cautious with regards to sunlight. According to Environment Canada, the city of Medicine Hat is the sunniest metro area in all of Canada, getting about 2,512 hours of sunshine each year. Lethbridge and Edmonton rank 11th and 12th, respectively, on the Sunniest Cities in Canada list.