Many Americans are unaware of the vision damage caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, according to The Vision Council’s 2014 Sun Protection Survey.
The Vision Council is working to educate consumers on the long and short-term eye benefits provided by the frequent use of UV-protective sunglasses - a habit that less than half of Americans (46 percent) are practicing.
“Over the past four years, we’ve measured the public’s knowledge of UV exposure to unprotected eyes with our annual sun protection survey,” said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. “While our outreach has garnered almost 800 million impressions to date, and we are seeing an increase in consumer knowledge of UV-related eye damage, there is still work to be done to translate this knowledge into the action of wearing sunglasses and other UV-protective eyewear.”
Key findings from the survey include:
· 46 percent of adults report that they wear sunglasses only when it’s sunny outside—thus exposing their eyes to UV rays that are still present on partially cloudy and cloudy days.
· Of the respondents wearing sunglasses when interviewed, 35 percent did not know if their eyewear provided UV protection; 10 percent said their shades did not have such protection.
· 49 percent were unaware that prolonged exposure to UV radiation can accelerate the growth of cataracts.
· Only 27 percent of respondents who wear sunglasses store them in a case; the majority toss them into handbags or on car consoles or countertops. The resulting scratches and scrapes can obstruct UV protection and warp lenses and frames.
In addition to providing region-specific data, the report details UV-related vision risks for children and adults of all ages. The Vision Council is working to inform consumers that, without UV-protective eyewear, individuals of all ages can suffer immediate issues such as swollen or red eyes, hypersensitivity to light and photokeratitis (commonly known as sunburn of the eye).
To mitigate the risks of UV-related eye damage, The Vision Council recommends the following:
· Apply your knowledge – Make UV protection a crucial consideration when buying sunglasses.
· Consider your options – Look for lenses and frames designed for specific activities and lifestyles.
· Know where to go – Purchase sunglasses from a reputable source and look for a label on the lens or frame indicating UVA and UVB protection.
· Learn more – Visit www.thevisioncouncil.org for additional information about UV protection, sunglasses and eye health.
New this year, The Vision Council has pitched the story regionally to cities with the top UV indexes, with select eye care providers in 10 media markets conducting interviews and sharing a local perspective on eye health and UV protection as spokespeople of The Vision Council.
To view or download a copy of the report, A Lifetime of UV Eye Protection, visit www.thevisioncouncil.org.