The Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that scientific studies indicate that spending long hours in the sun without eye protection can damage your eyes by contributing to cataracts and changes in the retina as well as to the surface of the eye. The Ministry would thus like to recommend to the public that it should adopt a pro active approach towards protection of their eyes from Ultra Violet (UV) light exposure. This can be achieved by the use of UV absorbent sunglasses (99% UV absorption) and the use of a brimmed hat whenever there is prolonged exposure to the sun for long periods of time.
The Ministry is in the process of studying the possibility of setting Malaysian standards for non-prescription sunglasses. This is to ensure that these products adequately protect the eyes from glare and UV exposure, as well as to ensure that, further problems are not introduced by the lenses themselves. This would include problems relating to distortion of vision, blurring of vision as well as causing discomfort to the user.
While this issue is being analysed, the public is advised to obtain their sunglasses from reputable sources. Opticians and optometrists in Malaysia will be able to advise you professionally on your choice of sunglasses. Additionally sunglasses with certification from European, American and Australian bodies would help in guiding you towards making a right choice as regulatory mechanisms are already in place in these countries.
The public must note that:
• Prices may not co-relate to levels of protection. Budget sunglasses may offer as much protection as high end sunglasses.
• The level of tint may not directly correlate to the level of UV protection offered
• Efforts should be made to check the optical quality of the lenses being used to avoid distortion or blurring
• Impact resistance qualities should be looked for as this will ensure higher levels of safety as well as offer more protection
• Driving while using darkly tinted sunglasses can compromise your visualization of signal lights, road signs, road hazards and smaller vehicles particularly in bad weather. Sunglasses with high levels of tint are unsuitable for use while driving
The Ministry of Health will in co-operation with professional bodies involved in eye care and safety issues, carry out education campaigns, to empower the public to make the right choices with regard to protecting their eyes from harmful UV light exposure.
DATUK DR. NOOR HISHAM BIN ABDULLAH
Director General of Health Malaysia
Ministry of Health Malaysia
10th December 2014