Insight E-Newsletter - Summer 2013


Welcome to the Summer edition of "Insight". This month, we highlight the importance of protection from UV rays through our inaugural Wear a Pair campaign. The Wear a Pair campaign aims to teach Canadians of all ages the importance of wearing quality UV-protective sunglasses in any weather condition.

Read on to learn more about the Wear a Pair campaign and how you can shield your eyes from UV protection through the use of sunglasses, UV-protective contact lenses and a wide-brimmed hat. You'll also learn what to look for when purchasing a new pair of shades and the importance of UV protection for children.

UV protection in all conditionsSun glasses

Wearing sunglasses on a sunny day is second nature for most Canadians, but few realize that their eyes are susceptible to UV damage even in cloudy weather.

"The sun's UV rays are still present on cloudy and overcast days thereby increasing your risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and other serious eye conditions," says Dr. Keith Gordon, CNIB's vice president of research. "The best line of defense is prevention – and wearing quality, UV-protective sunglasses is vital in safeguarding your eyes from future damage."

This summer, CNIB and its partners The Weather Network, Sundog Eyewear and ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses are educating Canadians of all ages on the importance of UV protection in all weather conditions through the Wear a Pair campaign. 

We're featuring this exciting new campaign on CNIB's Facebook page, where you can access helpful information about the impact of UV on the eyes and what you can do to reduce your exposure and your risk of vision loss. You can also participate in polls to increase your UV knowledge and even a photo contest that awards winners a mention on The Weather Network as well as a pair of Sundog sunglasses for the entire family!

Why the entire family? Because wearing sunglasses is not only for adults. Practicing proactive vision care and wearing UV-protective sunglasses is especially important for children. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 per cent of UV damage occurs before age 18.

"The lenses in young people's eyes are less capable of filtering UV than adult eyes, which is why it's so important for parents to instill in their children the habit of diligently wearing sunglasses from a very early age," says Dr. Gordon.

So how can you protect your family's eyes from UV? CNIB recommends all Canadians:

  • wear sunglasses with at least 99 per cent protection from UVA and UVB rays year-round, even on cloudy days;

  • if you require vision correction, wear contact lenses that provide UV protection and pair them with quality sunglasses for an added layer of defense;

  • wear a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap when outside; and

  • stay out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.

For more information on how you can protect your eyes and participate in the campaign, visit


How to shop for shadessun glasses

When shopping for sunglasses many Canadians consider cost and style first and foremost. Most of us don't see sunglasses as more than a fashion accessory, but a good pair of shades can save your eyes from permanent damage and lower your risk of developing serious eye conditions such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

When you're on the hunt for new shades what should you be looking for? While UV protection should be your top priority, there are other features to consider when picking your next pair:

  • Glasses should be dark enough to reduce glare, but not so dark that they distort colours or interfere with recognizing things like traffic signals. Remember that lens colour and the degree of darkness are not related to the ability to block UV light.

  • Lenses should be large enough to block light entering from the sides. Sports models that wrap all the way around the temples are ideal.

  • Kids need to wear sunglasses too! To reduce the risk of broken lenses look for those made of polycarbonate, which are more shatter-resistant than regular lenses.

  • People who are working outdoors – whether in the garden or at a construction site – may choose a polycarbonate lens for extra protection from eye injuries too.

  • Polarized lenses reduce glare but don't necessarily block UV.

  • If you're a contact lens wearer, ask your contact lens practitioner to suggest lenses that offer some UV protection. Paired with sunglasses, contact lenses offer an added layer of defense against harmful UV rays.

It's important to remember that while these features can make for a more comfortable pair of sunglasses, they don't offer protection from UV rays. The only way to ensure your eyes are shielded from the sun is to buy a quality pair of sunglasses that offers at least 99 per cent protection from UV.

People often wonder if cheap sunglasses are as effective in blocking UV as more expensive glasses. Unfortunately, the answer is not clear. This claim is not monitored by any health authority and a small study CNIB conducted a year ago revealed a couple of low-priced pairs in the evaluated sample that were not 99 per cent absorbent. One way you can determine the effectiveness of a pair of sunglasses is to look for labels that state that the lens absorbs 100 per cent UVA and UVB radiation, the damaging parts of the UV spectrum. This may be stated in one of four ways: 100% UV protection; UVA and UVB protection; UV400; or 100% UV400.

Now that summer is here and you know what to look for, find yourself a good pair of shades, throw on your hat and enjoy the outdoors knowing that you are protecting your vision health.

For more information UV and eye health, or to download our helpful sunglasses shopping list, visit


UV by the numbersKids wearing sun glasses

Over the last 20 years Canadians have become aware of the harmful effects sunlight can have on their skin. Most of us wouldn't go outdoors without wearing sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun. Unfortunately, most people aren't aware that it is just as important to protect our eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

"Numerous studies have shown that there is an association between long-term exposure to UV light and the development of a number of eye diseases, most notably cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the number one cause of vision loss for Canadians," says Dr. Keith Gordon, vice president of research at CNIB.

More than 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts and approximately one million are affected by AMD. Both of these diseases can result in significant or sometimes complete vision loss, but fortunately, 75 per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated if detected early. In fact, up to 20 per cent of cataracts may be caused by overexposure to UV radiation and are therefore avoidable. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing eye disease, including steps to minimize UV damage.

Buying sunglasses with at least 99 per cent protection from both UVA and UVB rays is an easy place to start; wearing sunglasses in any weather condition is also important to remember. The sun's UV rays are intensified when reflected and glare is almost always present during daylight hours, even when it's cloudy.

UV protection is especially important for children as they spend more time outdoors and receive approximately three times the annual dose of UV than that of adults. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 per cent of UV damage occurs before the age of 18.

"Because the effect of sunlight builds up over time, it's never too early to start wearing sunglasses," says Dr. Gordon. "The lenses in children's eyes are less capable of filtering UV rays than adult eyes. Without proper eye protection, children are at risk of developing cataracts and AMD later in life."

This summer, take steps to protect your eyes (and don't forget the kids!) from the sun by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat - even on cloudy days!

For more information on how to protect your eyes from UV damage, visit


Shop CNIBSun glasses

Shop CNIB's most popular pair of shades.

UV Shield Fit-over Sunglasses exclude 100% of UVA, B and C rays, and transmit an amount of light according to the shade of plastic used. Frames and temple arms are shaped to fit over most types of spectacles so as to exclude ambient light. Frames, arms and lens are moulded from the same colour of translucent material. Lens is a one-piece design.

Click here to order NOIR UV40 Amber Sunglasses today! To browse hundreds of other Shop CNIB products for everyday living, visit one of our 20 stores across the country, visit our webstore or call the CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642 to order a free catalogue.


CNIB Night Steps

A walk under the stars

CNIB Night Steps brings together family, friends, and community members for a fun 5K night walk that raises funds for CNIB’s vital programs and services for people who are blind or partially sighted, such as independent travel skills. Enjoy an evening of live music, a BBQ and exclusive party favors under the stars! Register today at   ​


Note:The information provided in this article is for awareness purposes only, and should not replace the expertise of an eye doctor. CNIB recommends that you visit your Doctor of Optometry regularly for thorough eye exams, up-to-date medical information and advice tailored to your own unique vis health and family history.

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