With summer upon us, and the sun at its strongest, sunscreen is virtually a necessity here in the Cayman Islands. But there is more than just our skin we have to protect from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Perhaps just as important is protecting our eyes with a good pair of sunglasses.
“It is very important to wear sunglasses,” says Dr. Thaddeus Daniel, optometrist at VisionWear on Market Street in Camana Bay. “Sunglasses are the sunscreen for our eyes.”
UV radiation can damage the eyes just like our skin and can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, growths on our eyes and even skin cancer on the eyelids and on the eye Doctor Thaddeus Daniel, VisionWear
Dr. Daniel says that the sun is a lot stronger here in the Caribbean and he has seen quite a bit of sun damage to his patients’ eyes. “UV radiation can damage the eyes just like our skin,” he says, “and can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, growths on our eyes and even skin cancer on the eyelids and on the eye.”
He recommends that children wear sunglasses as soon as possible. “Damage is cumulative and it starts as soon as we start spending time outdoors.”
Polarized sunglasses are also key. “I recommend polarized sunglasses for an added benefit because polarization will also eliminate the reflections of light off of any surface at 100 percent,” Dr. Daniel says.
Like Dr. Daniel, VisionWear’s CEO Gary Bernard stresses the importance of choosing the right sunglasses. “You should select sunglasses that block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays,” Bernard says. “The more coverage from sunglasses, the less sun damage inflicted on the eyes.”
He adds that wearing sunglasses also reduces eyestrain and the formation of wrinkles that are caused by squinting. To ensure the optimal protection, Bernard suggests buying oversized glasses or wraparound-style glasses, as this helps to cut down on UV entering the eye from the side.
Sunglasses can also be fashion statements. Popular right now are cat-eye shapes for women and rounded shapes for men.
“Sunglasses are necessities, but are also considered fashion accessories,” Bernard says. “We tend to see style changes at least twice per year.”
VisionWear offers an extensive variety of plastic and metal designer sunglasses, including brands such as Bvlgari, Dior, Dita, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Lindberg, Tiffany and Tom Ford. It also sells sunglasses for children. VisionWear also provides prescription sunglasses, with the same kinds of protection from the sun.
“We offer polarized as well as mirror, solid and gradient lenses,” Bernard says. “The material recommended would depend on your prescription and range from plastic to high-index lenses.” Transition lenses, which are clear and then automatically darken when exposed to sunlight, are also good choices, Dr. Daniel says.
“Transition lenses also give us the protection we need from UV light and are a great option for all ages.”
The amount of time customers have to wait for sunglasses at VisionWear depends on the prescription—about an hour if the lenses are in stock, or a week to two weeks otherwise.