Autumn sun danger to eyes warning

With the Autumn sun posing an increased risk to the eyes, National Eye Health Week (NEHW) and Boots Opticians have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and help prevent future, avoidable, sight loss.

Boots National Eye Health Week

When the sun crossed the celestial equator on the Autumn equinox (23 September 2014 02:29 GMT) the highest point on its trajectory reduced to just 40-degrees. David Cartwright, chair of NEHW explains how this impacts on our eyes: “When the sun is high in the sky our brow bone acts like a built in sun shade and prevents damaging UV light entering the eye. When the sun is low in the sky during Autumn months the total amount of UV radiation your eyes are exposed to increases dramatically.”

Cumulative UV exposure has been found to promote the onset of cataracts(1) and has been implicated in the development of a range of other eye conditions including photokeratitis, pterygium and macular degeneration – the UK’s leading cause of blindness (2).

David continues: “One simple way you can tell if your eyes are in danger of UV damage is to look at your shadow. If your shadow is taller than you, you should protect your eyes using a hat, sunglasses or UV protective lenses.”

To mark National Eye Health Week Boots has a special offer – ÂŁ10 for an eye check including digital retinal photography – find out more at

As part of a wider public health initiative to prevent future avoidable sight loss(3) and highlight the year-round risk of eye damage caused by UV radiation, NEHW has teamed up with Boots Opticians to launch Sunbeams, to encourage schools to include sun safety within their child protection policies. It will also provide teachers with a range of Key Stage 1 learning resources which highlight ten simple strategies for staying safe in the sun and explain how doing things such as having regular sight tests and eating colourful fruit and vegetables can keep your eyes and vision healthy.

Ben Fletcher, Managing Director, Boots Opticians said: “Everyday protection from UV is vital, especially for children, who are more susceptible to eye damage(4). Increasingly evidence shows the eye health risk of UV exposure – even on a cloudy day. We also know that most of our exposure to harmful UV happens before the age of 18 so it’s important to get eyes checked regularly. We hope our Sunbeam characters Ellen and Ravi will encourage kids and parents to take care of young eyes to minimise the risk of future sight loss.”

Children’s doctor and TV medic Dr Ranj is supporting the Sunbeams campaign. To view Dr Ranj’s vlog and for further information about the public health initiative plus children’s games and a host of fun activities visit

Sunbeams’ Ten Simple Strategies for staying safe in the sun

1. Protect your eyes whenever the UV Index rises to three or more(5) – even on a cloudy day. (Over 90% of UV can transmit through the clouds).

For comfort you may also wish to wear eye protection on bright days when the UV Index is below three.

2. Wear sunglasses with a CE; UV 400 or BS standard BSEN1836 : 2005 mark – this ensures they provide adequate UV protection.

3. Never wear toy sunglasses. These offer little UV protection and can actually cause more damage because the tinted lenses dilate the pupil allowing more UV light to enter the eye.

4. If you wear spectacles, check your lenses provide UV protection.

5. Make sure your eyes and area around your eyes is fully covered. Large lenses and wrap-around styles provide the greatest protection.

6. Wear a hat, cap or visor for added protection

7. Sit or play in the shade

8. Stay out of the sun between 12pm and 3pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Up to 50% of the total daily UV is emitted between these times!(6)

9. Never look directly at the sun, this can permanently scar the retina.

10. Remember the shadow rule…
… If your shadow is taller than you are your eyes are at greatest risk from UV exposure, as your brow bone no longer offers natural protection.

About National Eye Health Week
The fifth annual National Eye Health Week will take place 22 – 28 September 2014. The Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all. Visit for further information.

About Boots Opticians
Boots Opticians is one of the leading opticians in the UK with around 600* practices of which around 180* operate on a franchise basis. Of these, 420* are standalone practices and 180* are in Boots stores.

In August 2013, Boots Opticians became the first national multiple optician in the UK to include digital retinal photography as a standard element of its eye test for customers of all ages.

De Rigo, a world leader in the design, production and distribution of high-end eyewear and sunwear, owns a 42% minority interest in Boots Opticians which it obtained in 2009 after Boots Opticians merged with Dollond & Aitchison to create the second largest optical chain in the UK.

*Figures are approximations as at 31 March 2014.

About Dr Ranj, Sunbeam Amabassador
Dr. Ranj is a successful NHS doctor, specialising in the care of children and young people, and also an exciting new TV talent.

Dr. Ranj trained at Guy’s, King’s & St. Thomas’ Hospitals School of Medicine and qualified in 2003 with degrees in Medicine and Pharmacology. Since then he has worked in a variety of adult and paediatric specialities, in a range of district general and teaching hospitals. In 2007 he became a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Alongside his medical career, Dr. Ranj has developed an impressive media profile and featured in various projects across TV, radio, printed press and online. He is the co-creator and presenter of the pioneering CBeebies’ show Get Well Soon, and also has a kids’ health segment on ITV This Morning.

See the light with Foster Grant – eyewear giveway


Forget the jam jars of the old days; reading glasses are now a stylish fashion accessory coming in a range of shapes and sizes to fit any face. The only thing is, the really nice pairs can often be a little bit pricier than the rest, still – you can’t really put a price on looking good. Or can you?

Actually the truth is that you donÂ’t have to. WeÂ’ve teamed up with Foster Grant to offer you a pair of their ready-to-wear reading glasses that will add that touch of style to your look. DonÂ’t worry, youÂ’ll get just the pair that suit your eyes as Foster Grant are specialists in the eyewear field offering glasses that are exclusively designed to optical standards and reflect the very latest fashion and eyewear trends.

At ÂŁ14.99 or under they are a truly affordable alternative to prescription lenses and will offer you the opportunity to look a million dollars for much, much less.

To get your hands on this great prize – we have 10 pairs worth ÂŁ14.99 to giveway – all you have to do is answer the following question and send your answer with your name and address. Please also put Foster Grant in the email header. This offer closes on 30 October 2008.

Which legendary British comedy duo are instantly recognisable by their retro glasses?
A. Two Ronnies
B. French and Saunders
C. The Mighty Boosh

Please note that no cash equivlant is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.

For more information on Foster Grant visit

Top tips for buying healthy shades this summer


Eighties retro-style sunglasses may be the trendy choice this summer, with everyone from Amy Winehouse to Sienna Miller favouring them – but experts are warning fashion-conscious Brits to focus on looking after their eyes when it comes to buying a new pair of shades.

Research reveals that almost 80 per cent of under-25s put fashion and price BEFORE safety standards when choosing sunglasses.

And with some sunglasses on sale across the UK offering little or no protection from harmful UV rays, The College of Optometrists is warning of the dangers as people prepare for summer holidays.

Sunlight can damage the retina and lens of the eye, increasing the long-term risk of developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).

Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric adviser at The College of Optometrists, says: “With increasing awareness of the risk of skin cancer, most of us wouldn’t dream of going outside on a sunny day without suncream protection. Yet many forget or are even unaware of just how delicate the eyes can be, and will be going on summer holidays with totally unprotected eyes, or with sunglasses that are not up to scratch.”

The research also reveals:

– The 66 and over age group is the only one to focus on protection over anything else when buying sunglassesÂ…although theyÂ’re also the least likely group to have a pair

– Overall, the majority of Brits (62.6 per cent) are more influenced by how sunglasses look and how much they cost than whether they actually protect eyes

– Around one in seven of us (14 per cent) never wear sunglasses at all

Dr Blakeney adds: “It is particularly worrying that younger people have so little regard for their eyes when up to 80 per cent of exposure to UK over a person’s lifetime occurs before the age of 18. It’s therefore especially important to make sure that children wear sunglasses so that any long-term damage is minimised.

“Summer is just around the corner, so it’s time to protect your eyes by making sure that you’ve got a good quality pair of sunglasses to wear.”

The College of Optometrists offers the following advice on what to look for when making a purchase and how best to protect your eyes this summer:

Buy good quality, dark sunglasses – Sunlight can damage the retina and the lens of the eye, and we risk causing long term damage to our eyesight, developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) by remaining unprotected.

Check they are up to standard – Good sunglasses donÂ’t need to be expensive: you can purchase perfectly adequate protective sunglasses from high street stores. Look out for glasses carrying the “CE” Mark and British Standard BS EN 1836:1997, which ensures that the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.

DonÂ’t forget your kids – The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 80 per cent of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV is received before the age of 18.* WhatÂ’s good for you is good for them, too.

TheyÂ’re not just for summer though – The sunÂ’s UV rays can be present in high enough levels to warrant protection throughout the year (so while some celebrities may be laughed at for wearing sunglasses in the winter, it actually may be good for eye health.) In fact, some people find the glare of the sun more noticeable in winter, particularly when they are driving, as the sun is lower in the sky. If you drive it is handy to keep a pair of (prescription if you need them) sunglasses in the car. And sunglasses should never be worn when driving at night.
Light coloured eyes are especially vulnerable – People with light coloured eyes are most at risk from sun damage. If you have blue eyes, take even more care to wear glasses in the sun.

People who wear glasses can wear sunglasses too – Sunglasses can be made up to any prescription: distance, reading, bifocals or varifocals.

The College of Optometrists, the professional, scientific and examining body for optometrists in the UK, has launched the appeal as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of eye health.

About the research

The main research for this release was carried out in May and June 2006 by Canvasse Opinion.

About The College of Optometrists

The College of Optometrists is the Professional, Scientific and Examining Body for Optometry in the UK, working for the public benefit. Supporting its Members in all aspects of professional development, the College provides pre-registration training and assessment, continuous professional development opportunities, and advice and guidance on professional conduct and standards, enabling our Members to serve their patients well and contribute to the wellbeing of local communities.

Previously known as ophthalmic opticians, optometrists are trained professionals who examine eyes, test sight, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe and dispense spectacles or contact lenses. They also recommend other treatments or visual aids where appropriate. Optometrists are trained to recognise eye diseases, referring such cases as necessary, and can also use or supply various eye drugs.

Optometrists study at university for at least three years and participate in a full year of training and supervision, called the pre-registration year, before qualifying. Once qualified, they have the opportunity to develop their interests in specialist aspects of practice such as contact lenses, treating eye diseases, low vision, childrenÂ’s vision and sports vision.

All optometrists practising in the UK must be registered with the General Optical Council, the professionÂ’s regulatory body, and are listed in the Opticians Register. The letters FCOptom or MCOptom after an optometristÂ’s name means that he or she is a fellow or member of the College of Optometrists.
There are currently over 10,000 registered optometrists in the UK.