So you’ve chosen the perfect frames, but now you need to decide if you’ll need any specific lens treatments — including a UV treatment.

Protecting your eyes against UV rays (even on cloudy days) is one way to keep them healthy for as long as possible, and can even help to prevent some eye conditions. Here, we’ll break down some of the reasons why UV protection is important, and why you might consider adding it to your prescription lenses.

How can UV light damage my eyes?

Sunlight contains harsh ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB rays) that can be just as harmful to your eyes as your skin. These rays are invisible, but they can still penetrate your eyes, causing damage. In the short term, intensive UV ray exposure can cause photokeratitis (a kind of sunburn of the eyes), but thankfully this is quite uncommon.

With long-term exposure, there’s an increased risk of developing more serious eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration when you’re older. Macular degeneration occurs due to damage to the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, which can lead to reduced vision, and UV ray exposure has been shown to be a key risk factor for this. Likewise, one of the risk factors in cataracts is UV ray exposure, which can cause the lens in the eye to become cloudy and vision to blur.

Why do I need UV protection on my glasses?

If you already have a good-quality pair of sunglasses, you might be wondering whether it’s really necessary for your prescription pair to have UV protection too. But it’s important to remember that UV risk can still be high on cloudy or overcast days when it’s not really practical to wear sunglasses. This is because UV light is invisible and can penetrate clouds and even materials like the glass of your car windscreen.

Adding a UV-protective treatment to your prescription glasses is one simple way to keep your eyes protected against UV damage. Even lenses without a UV treatment do a good job of blocking out most UVB rays, but still allow most UVA rays to pass through. So, particularly if you spend a lot of time outside or even driving, having a pair of prescription glasses with a UV filter will take away the worry around whether your eyes are fully protected.

What kinds of UV treatments are available for prescription lenses?

Sun tint and UV protection

Adding a full sun and UV tint to your prescription lenses not only gives your eyes protection against UV damage, but can also help to enhance your vision. Tinted lenses can relieve eye strain and soften harsh lights, helping you to see clearly in bright weather conditions.

Reactions lenses

If you regularly move between outside and inside, then Reactions lenses might be a good option for you. They offer 100% blockage of UVA and UVB rays and change colour depending on your lighting conditions – so they’re clear indoors but darken like sunglasses in sunlight, meaning you only need one pair of glasses to keep your eyes protected in all conditions.

Polarising lenses

If you’re affected by glare during the day or while daytime driving, then polarising lenses might be a good option for you. Polarising lenses offer 100% UV protection and reduce harsh light glare reflected from flat surfaces, such as water or the road.

Top tips for choosing the right UV protection

Damage caused by UV light adds up over time, but it’s never too early or late to start protecting your eyes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Prescription glasses with a UV treatment helps keep your eyes safe in cloudy weather, but it’s still worth having a good pair of sunglasses for brighter days
  • Choose frames that offer good coverage of the eye and fit well
  • If you regularly change between outdoors and indoors, then glasses with Reactions lenses can save the trouble of having two pairs

You can still be stylish while staying protected against the sun. We have a range of prescription glasses and sunglasses to suit your individual style — from designer to more budget-friendly frames.

See our full range of UV lens treatments. Need more advice? Visit our buyer’s guide for some helpful tips on choosing glasses or visit your local Specsavers store.