Chris Bennett: Putting everyone in the shade
Author: Chris Bennett
Silly season sunglass stories have blazed back into the newspapers as the sun continues to shine and Britain basks in its longest heatwave since the summer of ’76.
Last Monday’s Sun online will have raised many optician’s hopes with the news that drivers face a £2,500 fine and nine points on their licence for not wearing sunglasses. Further reading, and the reality, inevitably didn’t quite match up. What started off as a positive story about avoiding glare behind the wheel ended in a rabbit warren of ifs and buts plus a counter warning that wearing sunglasses with too heavy a tint could also land you with a massive fine. Sadly it was this second point picked up and syndicated to regional news outlets around the UK.
Newsrooms may see sunglasses and driving as a rich seam to mine during a quiet period but the lack of awareness into the dangers of the sun, demonstrate the massive job of education required.
Last Wednesday was International Sunglasses Day, did you know that? So Optician took to the streets to ask the great sunglass-wearing British public if they knew about the initiative and a few other questions about shades. The result was the expected wildly differing levels of knowledge and a public that sees sunglasses as an easily damaged, seldom worn purchase.
The positive aspects of our vox pop are that sunglasses are a valued fashion accessory. People see sunnies as an extension of their personality and as such that offers a massive opportunity. There is also a growing awareness about the dangers of the sun and the acceptance of the health aspects of sunglasses.
Having a heatwave is a mixed blessing. The welcome sunshine brings uncomfortable heat and unavoidable glare. Quality sunglasses provide a solution and, so long as the sun shines, sunglasses suddenly become a necessity that optical practices should be promoting.