When it comes to sun safety most Aussies know how to 'slip, slop, slap', however a Campbelltown optometrist wants locals to add an extra step.
New research commissioned by Specsavers has found that six out of 10 New South Wales residents aren't aware that the sun can permanently damage their eyes by causing things like cataracts, cancer or macular degeneration.
Data found that just 37 per cent residents were concerned about the long-term damage to their eyes from the effects of the sun, while 93 per cent of people were concerned about long-term damage to their body.
Specsavers Campbelltown optometrist David Phan is encouraging Macarthur residents to be sun smart and protect their eyes from harmful UV this summer.
He said it was important that residents were educated on both potential long-term damage and what they could do to prevent it.
"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," Dr Phan said.
"While our eyelids are designed to protect our eyes, the skin around our eyes is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can easily be damaged by UV light.
"UV damage to the eye and eyelid increases risk of serious conditions such as eyelid skin cancers, intraocular melanoma, conjunctival cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration and more.
"Unlike skin, where sun damage may be more visibly obvious, it's not necessarily the case 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."
The Specsavers research also found that not only is there a lack of awareness of the sun exposure implications on eyes, but that almost half of NSW residents surveryed admitted that they didn't wear sunglasses most of the time when they're outside.
In addition, most NSW residents don't necessarily have lenses which provide the right level of protection, with 46 per cent owning sunglasses with any kind of UV protection, and 37 per cent unsure of what kind of protection their sunglasses have.
"Most patients I've seen don't know what to look for in sunglasses when it comes to sun protection," Dr Phan said.
"The same way you put on sunscreen and a hat to protect your body, you should ensure you are wearing sunglasses that block out UV.
"I would recommend sunglasses that have polarised lenses because they not only offer 100 per cent UV protection for your eyes, but they also eliminate 99.9 per cent of glare caused by reflected light."
David's top tips for preventing sun damage of the eyes:
- 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 make sure you apply sunscreen to your eyelids and reapply it every two hours
- Wear a broadbrimmed hat: This will not only provide protection to your head but also your eyes, nose, ears and neck
- Wear sunglasses that have UV protection
- Be mindful of the amount of time you spend in the sun
- Get your eyes tested regularly
For more information, visit: specsavers.com.au/stores.