Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Why wearing sunglasses is vital to maintaining good vision for life

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Just like skin, the eyes are susceptible to sunburn, which is why it’s vital Australians wear UV protective sunglasses when outdoors this summer.

Despite the risks, Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index revealed that almost one in 10 Australians do not know UV protective sunglasses exist, whilst 30 per cent believe they are unnecessary.

The Index also found that just over half (58%) of Australians own a pair of UV protective sunglasses - leaving 42% of the nation’s eyes vulnerable to sun damage.

Optometry Australia is reminding people of all ages not to underestimate the importance of protecting their eyes against the sun’s damaging UV rays, with long term exposure to direct ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and reflective sources such as water or sand wreaking havoc on eyes.

Some of the more common side effects of excessive UV exposure include:

  • Accelerated growth of cataracts
  • Pterygium, which is a fleshy tissue growth on the white part of the eye
  • Cancers around the eyelid margin or conjunctiva

To avoid developing these conditions and to protect eye health, Australians are being urged to wear UV protective sunglasses at all times when outdoors, not just the 10am to 2pm peak UV exposure period during summer.

It’s important Australians understand that UV radiation can cause damage year-round; with the majority of Australians (76%) believing it is unnecessary to wear sunglasses during winter, whilst only 27% wear UV protected sunglasses during the cooler months.

Though the majority of Australians are familiar with the SunSmart mantra ‘Slip-Slop-Slap-Seek’, many are unaware that their eyes are just as susceptible to sunburn as their skin.

In Australia, we are exposed to some of the highest levels of UV in the world and our eyes are at risk of developing serious issues when left unprotected. Not wearing sunglasses is just as bad as heading out without a hat and sunscreen in the middle of summer. We especially need to empower parents in Australia to understand that UV protection of the eyes is vital from childhood.

To maximise protection, Optometry Australia also recommends purchasing UV protective lenses with category three or four protection which will not only reduce glare, but also protect the eyes from Australia’s harsh summer sun.

Close fitting wrap-around sunglasses or styles with wide temples (arms) provide the best protection for light entering from the side of the face. And of course, prescription options also exist for those who need to wear glasses to see clearly.

To find out more about UV protective sunglasses and how to protect your eyes this summer visit your local optometrist or head to www.goodvisionforlife.com.au.

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