The clocks have gone forward, in the Northern hemisphere at least, the days are getting longer and summer is on its way. As we look to spend more time outside, worshipping the sun, doing sporting endeavours, or participating in the annual British tradition of sunburn, it’s important that we think about our eyes.
For as long as I knew my grandfather he was blind, a result of cataracts which came from serving for the British Army in the sunny deserts of Africa and the Middle East. No one thought about serious eye protection back then and many paid the price with blindness later in life.
Whilst most wavelengths of light can cause our eyes damage, don’t look directly at the sun, it’s light in the ultraviolet spectrum, commonly known as UVA and UVB, which is the most damaging to our eyes. These rays can cause all sorts of damage including the cataracts suffered by my grandfather, eyelid cancer and macular degeneration which can cause vision loss once you get over 60. For those vain ones amongst you, UV prematurely wrinkles and ages the skin around the eyes, so a pair of good sunglasses could be the best anti-wrinkle investment you ever make.
Whilst it’s advisable to wear sunglasses all year round, it’s especially important during those months when the sun is at its strongest in the summer. Those with fair your skin (damn it), light eyes (damn it again) and who spend more time outside are greatest at risk, so basement dwelling, night crawling bartenders might do pretty well with eye protection. As you get older the risk of eye damage also increases as the body takes longer to repair itself.
But just because you have dark skin and brown eyes doesn’t mean you are safe, we are all susceptible to damage from the sun and the damage is cumulative, like all those little tastes of cocktail you have but don’t think about and add to your weekly alcohol consumption and liver damage.
There’s also the damage that can be caused by glare, flying debris and random insects (tho there’s far less of them these days thanks to industrial pesticide use).
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the new Adidas Sports Eyewear running range. On the bike, I wear glasses most of the time to protect my eyes from flying debris, insects and rain (I live in England) but I’ve never really run in glasses before, except on exceptionally sunny days so I was keen to try out some glasses designed specifically for running.
We were given the choice of 4 different styles, and given the generous dimensions of my head, I settled for the only pair that didn’t make me look like a bald-headed Victorian steampunk gangster: The Pacyr
The grey lenses are pretty much suitable for most light conditions and whilst some sunglasses can either make it look like the early onset of a solar eclipse or a permanent neon orange disco, they kept pretty true to the real-world colours whilst shielding from glare and those dastardly UV rays.
We were a group of about 30, a mix of Adidas run captains, ultra-endurance nutters and journalists from around the world, who all seemed to write for various nations publications of Runners World.
We ran from the amazing Adidas Studio in East London, down past the Tower of London, over the amazing Tower Bridge, along the Thames, back over the Millennium Bridge, round St Pauls Cathedral and back to Brick Lane, about 9km in total with plenty of stops for photos.
It was a really great event and I learned first hand about the damage that can be caused to our eyes, particularly when participating in sports, I know I’ll be wearing my glasses every time I go running. After all, none of us wants to go blind.