Vision 2020 Australia and SunSmart are calling on Victorians to slide on their sunglasses and join in the global efforts to stop avoidable blindness, as today marks World Sight Day.
World Sight Day is an international event that raises awareness about avoidable blindness and vision loss – in Australia, 75 per cent of blindness and vision loss is avoidable or treatable.
It’s well-known that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major cause of skin cancer, but UV is also estimated to cause 20 per cent of cataracts , which is one of the five main conditions responsible for vision impairment in Australia.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Jennifer Gersbeck said wearing the right eye protection could help Victorians prevent eye damage.
“Three-quarters of Victorians report regularly wearing sunglasses while outside , but that may not guarantee their eyes are protected,” Ms Gersbeck said.
“It’s important to choose a close-fitting, wrap-around style and remember that the colour or darkness of the lens doesn’t indicate the level of UV protection,” Ms Gersbeck said.
“Check the label or swing tag for categories 2, 3 or 4, as these sunglasses will absorb more than 95 per cent of UV.”
SunSmart Manager Sue Heward said wearing a broad-brimmed hat during the daily sun protection times can also help to reduce UV to the eyes by 50 per cent.
“The eyes are extremely sensitive, so it is especially critical to protect them from UV damage,” Ms Heward said.
“During sun protection times, combine sunglasses use with slipping on sun-protective clothing, slopping on SPF30 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen, slapping on a broad-brimmed hat and seeking shade.”
Many eye conditions caused by exposure to UV radiation over long periods, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, have no symptoms in the early stages. Do not wait until you notice changes in your vision, get your eyes tested.
1 World Health Organization. Global Solar UV Index: A practical guide: A joint recommendation of the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Commission on non-ionizing radiation protection. WHO:Geneva, Switzerland, 2002 2002. Available from: http://www.who.int/uv/publications/en/UVIGuide.pdf.
2 Department of Health. Victorian Population Health Survey 2009. State Government of Victoria:Melbourne 2011.
3 Taylor H. The biological effects of UVB on the eye. Photochemistry and Photobiology 1989; 50(4): 489–92.