Sunnies mistake we're all guilty of. Picture: Instagram / Kim Kardashian
Sunnies mistake we're all guilty of. Picture: Instagram / Kim Kardashian

Deadly sunnies mistake we’re all making

Hands up who has bought a cheap pair of sunnies because you can't be trusted with a pair of expensive ones?

Or chosen a cheaper option because you know in a few months the trendy design will be out of fashion and therefore a waste of money?

Don't worry, we're all guilty of it. In fact, at one point in time my collection of budget sunglasses became a bit much. I had a pair to match every outfit - even a floral pair of knock-off Ray Bans that I picked up from a market stall in Kuta.

Fast-moving sunglasses trends like these popular small round frames can make buying cheap sunnies rather tempting. Picture: Instagram / Tammy Hembrow
Fast-moving sunglasses trends like these popular small round frames can make buying cheap sunnies rather tempting. Picture: Instagram / Tammy Hembrow

But then a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with skin cancer just under her left eye, and I discovered these cheap sunnies were actually terrible for my health.

"Many of us are aware of the consequences that UV exposure can have on our skins, but very few of us know about its associated eye complications," OPSM director of eyecare and community Peter Murphy told news.com.au.

As well as protecting our eyes from conditions such as cataracts, excess tissue growth condition pterygium and age-related macular degeneration, quality sunglasses with built-in UV protection can also prevent cancers around the eye, including eyelids and directly under the eye.

But good quality lenses are important for maintaining eye health. Picture: Instagram / Kim Kardashian
But good quality lenses are important for maintaining eye health. Picture: Instagram / Kim Kardashian

"When buying glasses, the majority of people tend to focus mainly on the frame itself: shape, colour, brand ... because that is what they will see while looking at the mirror," Peter said, explaining people forget the lenses are just as important.

But the mistake can be devastating, with the eye area - which most people neglect when applying sunscreen - being affected by a multitude of different cancers, according to the Cancer Council.

However, Peter said these could be protected against properly by investing in a premium pair of sunnies, especially as summer is on the horizon.

"Look for a pair that provides good coverage, as UV rays can still get through from all sides," he said. "You're after a pair that are specifically designed for UV eye protection and are rated UV400 or higher, as that means they'll block 99.9 per cent of UV rays.

Sunglasses with UV protection can help prevent cancer of the eyes, something people rarely consider when buying. Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith
Sunglasses with UV protection can help prevent cancer of the eyes, something people rarely consider when buying. Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith

"Lenses should also be polarised, to help neutralise harmful glare. And watch out for false UV labels - not all UV sunglasses are created equal."

As well as wearing sunglasses outdoors, you should have your eyes tested regularly to maintain good vision and general eye health, as most eye conditions can be treated if detected early, Peter warns.

It's certainly a message I've taken on-board after losing my friend earlier this year following her battle with cancer. It really is a simple switch that could save your life.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au