A Northamptonshire sight support charity is urging people to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.
Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB) says wearing shades is essential to avoiding long-term, irreversible sight damage.
They have launched their #ShoutOutForShades campaign with the support of local optometrists. Schools across the county including Ringstead Primary School, Beanfield Primary School and the Studfall schools are taking part in mufti days to raise awareness and money for NAB.
Alexander Lohman, NAB’s chief executive, said: “We are trying to get everyone in the county protecting their eyes from the sun as part of our mission to reduce avoidable sight loss.
“Everyone knows that the sun can burn your skin, and potentially cause skin cancer, but the fact that your eyesight is also damaged often gets left out.”
Fifty per cent of all sight loss is avoidable and UV light contributes to the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration.
The effects are cumulative so the more exposed your eyes are to UV rays, the higher the danger of damage to the cornea, retina and lens.
Young people under 18 are particularly at risk of UV sight damage, partly because they have larger pupils and clearer lenses but also because younger people tend to be outdoors more.
Eighty per cent of all the UV light absorbed by your eyes happens before you are 18, yet a reported 70 per cent do not wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.
There are an estimated 21,540 people living with some degree of disabling sight loss in Northamptonshire.
By 2030, as the county’s population grows and ages, this number could rise to more than 32,000.