The nights are drawing in and we are already starting to think about Christmas. Yes, Winter is coming. So now is the perfect time for everyone to be thinking about protecting their eyes from the sun.
The sun? That thing we need to shield our eyes from when we are on our two-week sunny beach holiday?
Yes, that sun. English sun is just as damaging as Spanish sun, and during the winter it brings other dangers too.
My husband works all over the place. If he isn’t flying out somewhere, he’s in his car. Anyone who knows my husband pictures him with a pair of sunglasses – on his head if they are not over his eyes. He’s done that ever since I gave him a pair of Polarised Anti-Reflective UV filtering sunglasses shortly after we met, and explained to him why he should protect his eyes from lens and retinal damage.
But I mentioned another reason, which proved itself a few years later:
After a stint working in Poole, Dorset, my husband was driving home late afternoon in winter, heading east on the M3. He’d been bowling along for a little while when it occurred to him that he hadn’t noticed any traffic heading west on the opposite carriage. This carried on for a couple of miles – the road the other side of the Armco was empty. Four miles from when he first noticed, and on a slight descent in the road, he saw why there was no traffic. On the opposite side was an horrendous multi-vehicle accident, completely blocking all lanes.
He said it was like one of those scenes you get in Casualty. Naturally, you wonder what happened, so as he drove past he glanced back. The sun was behind him, low and bright yellow. Looking through the lenses of his polarised sunglasses the sun was still bright, but he lifted them and suddenly all he could see was yellow, yellow, yellow, and he felt that sharp pain you get when a sudden light makes your pupil constrict rapidly. Anyone driving in to that with no filtering eyewear was in trouble, especially as they would have been pointing slightly uphill, with the sun right there in front of them.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be so risky. I wear my sunglasses more in the winter than in the summer, and I wear them a lot in summer. A flash of low winter sun under your visor as you round a corner can be temporarily blinding. And if it has been raining you are getting that harsh light from the source AND the reflection on the wet road. Town driving is just as risky as motorway driving, because then you get the strobe-light effect as the sun flashes constantly from between buildings and trees.
I try to never complain about being stuck in traffic if the cause of it is an accident, because I am just grateful it isn’t me in the accident itself. And if I could stop every driver I see in winter squinting away without some form of sun filter on their schnozz, and demonstrate to them the difference a Polarised filter could make, I would. It should be standard safety equipment in a car, along with seatbelts and airbags.