PHUKET: Everyone wants to look good in their new shades, but there are some important health issues and practical points to think about before you run out and buy those designer glasses that make you look absolutely fabulous.
The main health reason for wearing sunglasses is to shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays found in natural sunlight. Overexposure can lead to UV radiation which can cause a myriad of short-term and long-term problems with your eyesight.
The EU standard for UV protection requires 95 per cent of the radiation to be reflected or filtered out and the lenses must also be impact resistant. As of 2009, the European “CE mark”, has been added to the arms of sunglass frames to indicate that they offer a safe level of sun protection.
We turned to optician Somsak Laopratai, the successful operator of Somsak Optic in Phuket Town, to help us with the technical aspects of shopping for a pair of sunglasses.
Mr Somsak advised us that most quality sunglasses in Thailand are imported from Europe, so you just need to check for the CE mark on the arms of the frames.
Recently, high-energy visible light has been implicated as a cause of age-related sight loss. Studies suggest that blue light-blocking (amber-tinted) lenses could benefit patients with age-related eye problems.
Unfortunately, the sunglass standards don’t always address protection from blue light. Often manufacturers simply indicate that the sunglasses meet the blue light blocking requirements of a specific standard rather than indicate a specific level of protection. To be safe, you should consider the color of the lenses. But proceed with caution: all blue or gray lenses, and even some of the yellow or brown lenses, don’t offer blue light protection.
Glass lenses provide the best clarity and are easy to care for, but they’re heavy and they’re not impact-resistant. Consequently, 99 per cent of all sunglasses are now made from plastic. There are three types of lenses to consider: the new plastic, CR39 plastic, and cheap plastic.
The newest type of plastic lenses are available from Oakley and to a lesser extent, Ray-Ban, for about 4000 baht and up. Oakley’s Plutonite lens material is engineered to stop 100 per cent of UVA, UVB, UVC, as well as harmful blue light. These lenses are also impact-resistant.
This type of plastic is innovative because the UV protection and color is blended into the plastic before the lenses are fabricated. A thin film is added to other types of plastic lenses to color or polarize the lens. Over time, this film often separates from the lens.
People who need to wear strong prescription sunglasses usually opt for this type of lens as the end-product is thinner than glass.
However, Mr Somsak warns us: “These lenses are difficult to care for. They scratch easily and they shouldn’t be exposed to saltwater as this will damage them. They shouldn’t be stored in high temperatures as the heat can also damage them.”
CR39 is an older standard for plastic lenses that was originally designed to replace thick, heavy, glass prescription lenses. These are dipped in color and UV solution to make the final product. They’re more expensive to make, however, the process is more flexible so it can be used to produce many different kinds of custom plastic lenses.
This standard is still used by most designer brands, except for Oakleys and some new Ray-Ban products. The designer brands are priced from 5000 baht and up.
“All designer brands meet the EU standard. They are easy to care for, are scratch-resistant and can be left in high temperatures without being damaged. They can also be exposed to saltwater without damaging the lenses. They have a higher level of clarity than the new plastic lenses, but they are heavier and more expensive,” explained Mr Somsak.
It is almost impossible to tell the difference between the new plastic and CR39, as shown in the photograph above. “If you want to know what kind of lenses you’re buying, you will need to ask a knowledgeable person at a quality eyewear shop,” added Mr Somsak.
If the designer brands are too expensive, you can opt to buy custom sunglasses at an optical store. You can buy frames for as little as 800 baht and up, and CR39 lenses for 400 to 600 baht per pair.
Cheap sunglasses are a poor choice. They don’t meet any of the UV standards, they have poor clarity, and they’re not anti-reflective.
“Cheap sunglasses do not meet any of the UV standards. Although most of them block UV, they just don’t block enough,” advised Mr Somsak. Dark lenses are even more harmful because they stimulate the pupil to open wider. As a result, more unfiltered radiation enters the eye.
Mr Somsak adds, “If you wear cheap glasses, in the long run they will damage your eyes. They also promote the growth of cataracts.”
Polarized lenses reduce the glare caused by light reflected from polarizing surfaces such as water and sky light. They are good for cutting reflected glare when driving. However, Mr Somsak cautions us again: “Polarized lenses are not popular in Thailand because they present a problem when you’re driving, as most car windscreens have tinted film. I have had more than one customer who has come back to my shop in Phuket and said they got headaches from wearing their polarized glasses while driving.”
As a final point, to fully protect your eyes from UV light, choose glasses that fit properly. The lenses should fit close enough to your face that very little stray light can reach the eye from the sides, above or below, but not so close that your eyelashes touch the lenses.
Okay, now go and buy the designer glasses you really wanted.
— Eugene Doberer
Chinese move their purchase power away from Bangkok condo market
Chinese condo buyers are veering their purchase power away from the Bangkok property market citing the strong Thai currency, overpricing and a supply glut.
- 2015 – 5.8 Yuan to the Thai Baht
- 2019 – 4.4 Yuan to the Thai Baht
The rise of the baht and the weakening of the Chinese Yuan over the past four years, have culminated in a 25% softening in Chinese investment power in the Thai property market (chart from xe.com)
Property consultants say that Chinese buyers are now containing their investment risk by buying into the lower-end 2-6 million baht condo market instead of the 5-10 million baht condos they were previously purchasing.
At the same time the annual returns for Bangkok condominiums is reported to have dropped from 6-7% five years ago to only 3-4% in some locations in the current market.
Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Simon Lee, President of property brokerage Angel Real Estate Consultancy, says overall sales volume of Bangkok condos bought by Chinese buyers will shrink by half in 2019.
He also notes that the current Thai government crackdown on investors renting out condos on daily or weekly leases, has scared a lot of new investment into the sector away as the ‘law’ appears to be applied in a haphazard manner.
The Chinese investors are also expressing disappointment when they buy into a development at one cost, only to find that locals pick up the balance of the stock at a lower price as the developers clears the stock.
Bangkok’s soaring land prices, which should see the value of condos rise, is being balanced out with the sheer glut of stock available, pushing down values. Rental returns are also being pushed down by the volume of stock available to the rental market.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
Here’s another report about signs of weakness emerging in the Bangkok condo market from The Thaiger.
‘Fast and Furious 9’ to be partly filmed in southern Thailand, including Phuket
The latest sequel of the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie franchise will partly be filmed in Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Surat Thani next month.
Yesterday Piya Petonji, the film’s production manager, met with Krabi Governor M.L. Kitibadee Prawit at the Krabi City Hall before the cast arrives and filming begins.
The filming will be from July 1-27 in locations around Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Surat Thani. It is estimated the production will bring a 340 million baht benefit to Thailand and the local film industry.
The Krabi Governor says this is a good opportunity for Thailand to present its beautiful nature, culture and history to the world through the film. There has been no announcement of when filming may be taking place around Phuket’s roads.
The Thaiger recommends the plot of the film as a race between a visa-run passenger van and a Chinese Tour Bus to the Malaysian border, with a feature muay thai face-off on Maya Bay beach between Vin Diesel and Leonardo DiCaprio (though the 45 year old might have to get some training in before returning to ‘The Beach’).
Here’s our Top Ten movies made around Phuket and Thailand.
Leonardo in Phuket last year during a quick break
From ‘Sawadee’ to ‘Pad Thai’. Who was Phibun?
by Dan Brook
Thai culture is ancient and one can even see evidence of its beautiful bronze-age civilisation in Ban Chiang, near Udon Thani in Isaan, Thailand’s lesser-visited north-east region.
But not everything in Thai culture is quite so old. In fact, some major things closely associated with Thailand are relatively recent — and all of them are related to Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram.
Phibun – as he is often called in the West, though he is better known as Chomphon Por in Thailand — was one of the leaders of the coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy in 1932, creating the constitutional monarchy that Thailand has had since. He also exerted more state control over the economy through nationalisation.
Culturally, however, Phibun may have had even more influence. As Thailand’s longest serving prime minister, he supported fascism (though he later de-emphasised this and embraced a form of democracy), extreme nationalism, and a cult of personality focused on himself. His photos were ubiquitous and his quotes were regularly in the newspapers. He mandated that Thais salute the flag, know the national anthem, and speak Thai.
Phibun changed the country’s name from Siam to Thailand in 1939, changed the new year from the traditional Thai one on April 13 to the European Gregorian one on January 1, and codified, promoted, and possibly created Thailand’s signature eponymous dish, pad thai, by adapting a Chinese noodle dish. His law requiring Thais to wear hats in public, however, clearly did not endure.
Shortly after he simplified the Thai script, Phibun adopted the word sawadee (from svasti, the Sanskrit word for blessing or wellbeing) from a Chulalongkorn University professor and made it the “official” Thai greeting, starting in 1943, still commonly used.
Any one of these changes is huge. Combined, Phibun helped create modern Thai culture as we know it!
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