Spread the Love – with SHADES OF LOVE! The non-profit organisation distributes used and new sunglasses to people in the high mountain regions of the Himalayas and the Andes. There, almost 80 percent of the people suffer from eye cancer or go blind due to the aggressive UV radiation. With sunglasses, much of this suffering could be avoided. SHADES OF LOVE has already distributed hundreds of thousands of sunnies, but many, many more are needed. Edel-Optics is helping – are you?
SHADES OF LOVE – When Sunglasses Change Lives
Imagine you are 40 years old, sitting on the stairs in front of your house, your child is playing football in the street, but you can practically no longer see him. You can’t do your job as a shepherd anymore either, because you can’t find your animals. So your child has to take over the job, there is no time for school. And all this only because you didn’t wear sunglasses.
Sounds over the top? This is an everyday reality for indigenous peoples in the high mountains of Asia and South America. Every day, people there go blind because they are exposed to the glare of the sun without protection. They suffer from eye cancer, triggered by the aggressive UV radiation that increases with every metre of altitude. Guide dogs or Braille? No such thing. The organisation SHADES OF LOVE has set itself the goal of helping these people. The helpers distribute used and new sunglasses to the people in the Himalayas and the Andes and can thus prevent or at least delay eye diseases caused by UV radiation. These sunglasses donations have the power to change lives. All kinds of sunglasses are collected, from high-quality specimens to 5-euro sunglasses from the beach kiosk on Malle – every pair of donated glasses is put through its paces and repaired in a workshop in Koblenz until it is fit for use. You can either send in your discarded sunglasses or hand them in at one of the SHADES-OF-LOVE collection points.
Who is behind SHADES OF LOVE?
The non-profit organisation SHADES OF LOVE was founded in Munich by Jürgen Altmann, an outdoor enthusiast and travel fan, who noticed on his trip through the Himalayan region of Ladakh how much the lives of the people there are affected by the strong UV radiation. He decided to help and started his Eyecare Project in 2009. Together with co-founder Niklas Huppmann, Altmann collected the first sunglasses in the Aroma coffee bar in Munich, of which he is the owner. 300 sunglasses in the first year have so far turned into more than 460,000, which have been distributed in 7 countries. What initially started as a pure Himalayan project was expanded to the Andes in 2017. Next, Altmann and his team want to extend the circle further to the Inuit on Greenland, Baffin Island and the Aleutian Islands. There, people need protection against snow blindness – until now, many have been using self-carved “glasses” made of bone or wood, which only leave narrow slits for vision.
Preventing Eye Cancer or Blindness: UV Radiation is This Dangerous
Most people today are aware that glaring sunlight is harmful to the eyes. But that is not all: UV radiation increases with every metre of altitude and even dense clouds cannot protect against it. For the inhabitants of high mountain regions in the Himalayan massif or in the Andes, this means that UV radiation at 2,500 to 6,500 metres above sea level is many times stronger than at sea level. The hole in the ozone layer intensifies this effect. The consequences: eye infections, corneal burns, macular degeneration, cataracts, eye cancer on the conjunctiva or skin cancer on the eyelids. This affects a large proportion of adults in the mountain regions and means that children have to take over the work of the grown-ups at a younger age. A vicious circle that SHADES OF LOVE wants to break.
UV Radiation Affects Us All…
Not only in the Himalayas, but also when drinking coffee on the balcony, you should think about your eye health. A good pair of sunglasses can be recognised by the CE mark and the UV protection, which should be at least UV380, even better UV400. And careful: a dark tint doesn’t necessarily mean you have UV protection, so it’s worth double checking.