The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) light, a form of electromagnetic radiation, in the UVA (long wave), UVB (medium wave), and UVC (short wave) bands. The Earth’s ozone layer blocks some 97% of this radiation from penetrating our atmosphere, and most of the UVC radiation is absorbed by the Ozone, where it helps to regenerate the ozone, but dangerous levels of UVA and UVB still reach the earth’s surface. Although UV light is invisible to the human eye, most of us have been sunburnt before and know its effects, but the UV spectrum actually has both beneficial and damaging effects on our health.
For example, a safe amount of exposure to UVB light induces the production of vitamin D in our skin, which in turn has a positive effect on our nervous system, immune system, blood pressure, and bone growth and density. However, both UVA and UVB break down the vitamin A in our skin, and too much exposure to UV light can damage the collagen fibres in the skin and accelerate the aging of the skin, and cause sunburn and even skin cancer.
THE EYES SUFFER TOO
Similarly, the longer our eyes are exposed to UV light, the greater the risk of damage and chances of developing problems such as cataracts, a clouding of the lenses. That’s why opticians and scientists recommend that we all wear sunglasses every time we go outdoors. For adequate protection, the experts recommend sunglasses that reflect or filter out 100% of UVA and UVB light up to a wavelength of 400nm. Sunglasses which meet this requirement are often labelled as offering “UV400 protection.”
Added to that, those of us who run on tarred roads or near water should especially wear sunglasses, because not only are our eyes exposed to direct glare and UV radiation, but also to reflected light and radiation off the road or water. For this reason, polycarbonate polarised lenses are recommended, because they’re designed to block this reflected light. With all this in mind, we found a few great pairs of sunglasses to showcase here.
As with most sports models, the Cinetik is a half-wrap design, with no frame going round the bottom edge of the lenses, to increase ventilation and thus prevent fogging. Each pair comes with three interchangeable sets of polycarbonate lenses for different light conditions, and these all feature ventilation slits on the outer upper edge to further promote ventilation. Lastly the anti-slip nosepiece is adjustable to ensure a snug fit.
R499 at leading eyewear retailers. More info: Bushnell Performance Optics 011 792 5408.
Available in seven colour options, The SJ is UV400 rated and also available with a polarised lens option. The nosepiece and arms are adjustable to ensure a snugger fit, and there is a click-hole on the inner nose bridge to attach a light plastic optical insert for your prescription lenses – so anybody can wear these specs. A key ‘running feature’ is the brow line gap, courtesy of the prominent nosepiece, which allows for better ventilation.
R360 at Totalsports, Sportmans Warehouse, Duesouth and Outdoor Warehouse. More info: Tri Ocean Trading 021 461 6053
Oakley Fast Jacket
Oakley’s SwitchLock™ Technology allows you to quickly and easily change lenses, with minimal handling, thanks to a stainless steel quick-release mechanism that securely holds lenses when mounted. Each pair comes with two interchangeable sets of lenses, with a hydrophobic coating that makes water bead up and roll off the lenses instead of leaving a blurry sheen, and two nosepieces, so the fit can be adjusted.
R3075 from leading sports retailers and optometrists. More info: 0861 486 100.
Rudy Project Swift
ImpactX Photochromic lenses automatically adapt to changing light conditions, so no need to take the sunglasses off when you enter a tunnel! Bonus: The lenses come with a lifetime guarantee never to break and are highly scratch-resistant. The frame has an open design for better ventilation as well as adjustable nose piece and temples that are coated with soft rubber for more comfort.
R1290 (limited special offer) at leading optometrists and bicycling stores. More info: ASG SPORT 012 751 4131
Rudy Project Rydon (Comrades Edition)
Rudy Project is the official eyewear of the Comrades Marathon, so no surprise that it has brought out a Comrades edition of one of its most popular designs. As with the Swift, the ImpactX Photochromic lenses are perfect for all light conditions, providing clear vision for the early morning and late afternoon runs as well as complete protection in even the brightest conditions. The frame is extremely light, flexible, durable, and adjustable.
R2300 at leading optometrists and bicycling stores. More info: ASG SPORT 012 751 4131