ALEXANDRIA—Despite the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation (UV) to eyes and vision, 40 percent of U.S. adults do not wear sunglasses while outdoors, and nearly half of drivers do not protect their eyes on the road, according to a new report from The Vision Council titled The Big Picture: Eye Protection Is Always in Season.
The report details how unprotected exposure to the sun increases risk for serious vision problems like cataracts, abnormal eye growths, cancer of the eye and surrounding skin and macular degeneration. To view or download a copy of The Big Picture: Eye Protection Is Always in Season, go to www.thevisioncouncil.org. ECPs can also download and print out an infographic titled: Protect Your Eyes From the Sun: UV Safety Factors From The Vision Council. In addition to this report, The Vision Council’s Bureau of Missing Sunglasses campaign website offers daily UV index levels, UV blog posts and videos.
The report also revealed that while a majority of adults report sunglass use for UV protection, far less actually wear them. Inconsistent sunglass use among children, who receive three times the annual sun exposure as adults, is even more concerning with more than half of parents surveyed for the report admitting they do not protect their children’s eyes with sunglasses. For parents, a child-friendly interactive UV-awareness kit is available for download atwww.thevisioncouncil.org.
“More Americans are acknowledging the need for UV protection but there is a big disconnect when it comes to our eyes,” said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. “While we may think we are doing a good job with protection, the truth is that we are not doing nearly enough.”
“Sunglasses remain the best defense against UV eye damage,” said Dora Adamopoulos, OD, member of the Better Vision Institute, the medical advisory arm to The Vision Council. “In my practice, I’ve seen firsthand the painful and sometimes devastating consequences of unprotected UV eye exposure, most of which could be prevented by using sunglasses.”
One way to get the word out to ECPs’ patients about the importance of UV safety, “is to get the entire staff of the practice involved,” Adamopoulos suggested. Doctors should bring up the subject as part of a routine eye exam and staff members should encourage patients to bring in their eyeglasses and sunglasses for their appointments as a way of getting the UV conversation started, she told VMail.
To mitigate UV risk, The Vision Council recommends that eyecare professionals urge their patients to follow these guidelines:
• Consider UV protection a key consideration when buying sunglasses.
• Look for a variety of lenses and frame options designed for specific activities and lifestyles.
• Purchase sunglasses from a credible source and look for a label from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).