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AOP campaign highlights more than half of adults fail to protect their eyes from UV

AOP campaign highlights more than half of adults fail to protect their eyes from UV

The Association of Optometrists is launching its SPF for your eyes campaign, advising the public to protect their eyes like they protect their skin by wearing CE marked sunglasses in all seasons.

The AOP’s latest Voice of Optometry research shows that almost a quarter of AOP members surveyed see up to nine patients every month with an eye disease linked to UV exposure – with 15% seeing more than 20 in the same period.

Optometrist and AOP Clinical Editor, Ceri Smith-Jaynes said: “While most people know that the sun causes skin damage, few realise it is just as damaging to their eyes – increasing the chances of developing conditions such as premature cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Our SPF for your eyes campaign is about highlighting how the public can reduce the risk and also provide them with simple, effective tips that they remember and use.”

Using sunglasses with UV protection significantly reduces the risks. Yet in a public poll only 46% claimed they owned a pair and of those who did, 24% admitted they only sometimes checked UV protection when choosing a pair to buy. Although, over 55s are more health conscious – with three quarters always checking the UV filter before purchasing.

Despite an estimated 80% of UV damage happening before the age of 18[i] only a quarter of parents safeguard their children’s eyes by always putting sunglasses with UV protection on them – with a third admitting they rarely or never do.

Ms Smith-Jaynes added: “A key message of the campaign is that UV can also be damaging on dull days so it’s good to get in the habit of wearing sunglasses and thinking about giving your eyes full UV protection in all seasons – not just on bright, sunny days.”

The conditions optometrist AOP members report seeing the most are pinguecula and pterygium, age-related macular degeneration and premature cataracts. Other less common conditions included basal cell carcinoma and photokeratitis.

The AOP is launching its SPF for your eyes campaign on Tuesday 27 July,
Key data

• Only 46% of adults in a public poll own sunglasses with UV protection[ii] • Two fifths (40%) of the public are unaware that too much UV exposure contributes to sight threatening conditions such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration and eye cancers
• A third of parents (31%) admit they never safeguard their children’s eyes with sunglasses
• Association of Optometrists advise protecting your eyes as you protect your skin – wear CE marked sunglasses in all seasons

Top tips for protecting your eyes against UV damage

1. Wear sunglasses which carry the CE quality mark, even if you are using contact lenses with a UV filter, because this will help protect the skin around your eyes, as well as the eye itself. Make sure children wear sunglasses too; their pupils are bigger than adults’, making the risk of sun damage much higher[iii] 2. Choose sunglasses that sit closer to the eye and wrap-around, blocking out more light
3. Check that your prescription lenses include a UV filter, for everyday protection
4. Wear a wide-brimmed sun hat for more protection
5. Never look at the sun directly – even if it’s just for a few seconds

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