Optometrists warn sun can damage eyes

Research finds six out of 10 Aussies ignorant of risks.

New research has revealed an alarming number of Australians are not aware the sun can cause serious damage to eyes.

YouGov research commissioned by Specsavers found 60% of Australians did not know the sun could cause eye cataracts, cancer or macular degeneration.

The research found while 92% of people were concerned about long-term damage to their bodies from the effects of the sun, just 35% were worried about long-term damage to their eyes. 

Specsavers Optometrist Greeshma Patel said it was important that Australians were educated on both the potential long-term damage to their eyes and what what preventive measures they could take. 

“The reality is that living in Australia means that we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation when we’re outside, even when it’s not bright and sunny,” Ms Patel said.

“Unlike skin, where sun damage may be more visibly obvious, it’s not necessarily the case when it when it comes to the eyes as you may not notice symptoms until well after the damage is done. 

“People may not realise that symptoms such as redness, blurry vision, swelling, light sensitivity, seeing halos and experiencing watery eyes can all be possible symptoms of sun damage to the eyes.”

Optometrist Greeshma Patel.

Specsavers Optometrist Greeshma Patel conducts an eye test.

How to prevent sun damage to eyes

  1. Apply sunscreen on your eyelids and around your eyes: While the eyelid is designed to protect the eye, the skin is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can be damaged by UV light so it’s important to apply sunscreen to your eyelids and reapply it every two hours.
  2. Wear a broad-brimmed hat: This will not only provide protection to your head but also your eyes, nose, ears and neck. 
  3. Wear sunglasses that have UV protection: For the best kind of protection, buy sunglasses that have polarised lenses as they provide superior vision in bright light, by eliminating 99.9% of horizontal glare, while also providing 100% UV protection.
  4. Be mindful of the amount of time you spend in the sun: The longer you spend outside, the higher your chance of experiencing sun damage. If you know you will be spending a long period outside, try to spend most of it in a shaded area. 
  5. Understand your family history: If you have a family history of melanoma or skin cancer, you could be at higher risk of developing those conditions.
  6. Get your eyes tested regularly: The best way to understand if your eyes are healthy and free from damage is to visit your local optometrist. Specsavers recommends getting your eyes tested every two years, or every year if you’re over the age of 65.

Remember the SunSmart slip, slop, slap, seek and slide rule. When you’re outside, slip on sun protective clothing, slop on SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and, slide on sunglasses that provide UV protection.

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