The Effect of Sunglass Price on Ocular Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation

(1) Advanced STEM Research Laboratory, Odessa High School, Odessa, Washington
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Exposure to ultraviolet waves has been linked to skin cancer, sunburns, and ocular diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium. While sunglasses are readily encouraged, many do not wear sunglasses, or do not check the protection offered prior to purchase. One possible reason behind this is people consider price to be an indicator of the sunglass’ quality. The purpose of this experiment was to test if the cost of sunglasses correlated with the amount of ocular protection from ultraviolet radiation provided. An ultraviolet omitting lamp (300 nm), natural sunlight, 20 sunglasses, and an illuminance probe were used to test this theory. No sunglasses and experimental groups of sunglasses (≤$10 or >$10) were tested in front of both light sources. Data was taken directly in front of a light source, at 45 degrees to the light source, and at 315 degrees to the light source, in order to test light passage from different angles. There was no significant difference between the protection offered from ≤$10 and >$10 sunglasses. The results of this research can be useful in occupational work. Although employers are not required to pay for an employee’s sunglasses, a low-income employee can purchase less expensive sunglasses for their occupation, while still safely protecting their eyes.

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