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Wear glasses when getting vitamin D from the sun – June 2011

An Epidemiological Perspective of UV Exposure-Public Health Concerns.

Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jun 10.
Lucas RM.
From the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Over the last 30 years, many countries have developed strong sun protection programs, spurred on by rapidly increasing skin cancer incidence and concerns about stratospheric ozone depletion. More recently, considerable concern has arisen about widespread vitamin D insufficiency, creating a "sun exposure dilemma," since in most regions vitamin D predominantly derives from endogenous synthesis in the skin initiated by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Little attention has been paid to whether a similar dilemma exists for UV-related eye conditions.

For the eyes, to our current knowledge, exposure to UV radiation has only adverse effects.

There is strong evidence that acute high dose exposure to UV radiation causes photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis, while even low dose chronic exposure to UV radiation is a risk factor for cataract, pterygium, and squamous cell carcinoma of the cornea and conjunctiva.

There is weaker evidence in relation to other conditions, including ocular melanoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Ultraviolet radiation-related eye diseases are common, disabling, and cause a considerable disease burden worldwide.The "correct" public health message for optimal sun exposure is not clear cut, with too many variables

  • ambient UV radiation,
  • personal skin type,
  • age,
  • weight,
  • clothing habits,
  • medication, and
  • others

for a blanket sun safety message. In addition, there remain many unknowns, including strong evidence supporting or refuting the very many proposed health benefits of vitamin D. More evidence is required to define disease burdens for UV-induced eye diseases, to evaluate the decrease in disease burden from sun protective measures and to elucidate any beneficial effects of exposure of the eye to UV radiation, to provide appropriate advice to the public.

PMID: 21670693
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Note virtually all glass/glasses stop UVB radiation. Most stop UVA as well.

Need wrap around glasses to stop light from the top and sides

This article does not distinguish between UVA and UVB

Email reply by author June 2011

"I asked this question of a radiation scientist and it is highly variable – it depends on the glasses. Many glasses stop UVA and UVB, others only stop UVB – so I don’t think there is a generic answer to your question. And it depends on the glasses design as well – for example my reading glasses would be useless in stopping UV of any wavelength as there is a wide gap at the top and at the sides.

From what we currently know, wearing glasses that stop UVA and UVB is advisable, as there does not seem to be any beneficial effects of irradiation of the eyes with UV wavelengths. However, that is “from what we currently know” and it is possible that the immune suppressant effects noted in my paper, or some UV effects on disorders such as seasonal affective disorder will be important – but this is not clear at the moment."

See also VitaminDWiki

Wikipedia on Sunglass protection

  • be sure that there is protection of sunlight getting around the glasses
  • Europe appears to have standards for UV blocking by sunglasses

Polycarbonate lens apparently block 100% of UV - no coating needed