With summer just around corner, the Cancer Council is in full swing promoting awareness of its sun safety message to the eye care profession. That message is that the eyes are susceptibile to damage from the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays and radiation.
With Australia having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, the Cancer Council of Australia has been working relentlessly to help prevent and reduce the rate of skin cancer.
Now, the organisation is urging the eye care industry to promote and ultimately help protect patients from the devastating consequences of the Australian sun.
Damage from the suns ultraviolet (UV) rays is not limited to the skin. Eyes too are susceptible to damage from the exposure to UV rays and radiation.
The Council says prescription sunglasses or protective shades worn over spectacles are well worth the cost. Close fitting, wrap-around style sunglasses are also recommended
As the Cancer Council points out, UV radiation from the sun or even a solarium is not seen or felt, but the damage is cumulative. Repeated exposure of the eyes to UV radiation causes both short term eye irritation and permanent irreversible eye damage.
Short term complaints include mild irritations such as excessive blinking, swelling, or difficulty looking at strong light. UV exposure can result in more serious damage to the eyes, including cataracts, pterygium, squamous cell cancer, solar keratopathy, cancer of the conjunctivia and skin cancer of the eyelids and surrounding eye.
The Cancer Council is asking eye care professionals to inform patients of the dangers and offer advice on the best and most reliable methods to protect themselves and most importantly their eyes this summer.
It says that this campaign via eye care professionals will go a long way to assist in the ongoing fight against skin cancer and significantly reduce eye related problems caused from UV exposure.
The highlighting of the Cancer Council guidelines regarding eye protection will assist them in making informed choices when it comes to their eye health.
The Cancer Council recommends people wear top quality glasses and lenses that meet the Australian standard (AS/NZ 1067.2003-category 2, 3 or 4).
Sunglasses with an eye protection of 10 or wearing glasses which transmit very little UV radiation, such as those labelled UV 400, are highly recommended.
The Council says prescription sunglasses or protective shades worn over spectacles are well worth the cost. Close fitting, wrap-around style sunglasses are also recommended.
It also suggests that patients who wear glasses consider having a UV protection coating added to enhance everyday protection.
The Cancer Council Australia and Eye Research Australia ‘Eye Protection’ recommendations are:
- Reduce UV radiation exposure as much as possible.
- Wear a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire style hat.
- Wear close-fitting, wrap around style sunglasses that meet the Australian
Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 for sunglasses (categories 2, 3 and 4).
- Wear glasses which transmit very little UV radiation, such as those labelled UV 400 or EPF (Eye Protection Factor) 9 or 10.
- Do not wear sunglasses at night as this reduces visibility.
- If outdoor workers need protection from flying particles, dust, splashing materials and harmful gases, eye protectors should be worn that comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 1337:1992 (eye protectors for industrial applications).
The Cancer Council Australia’s position statement ‘Eye Protection’ can we viewed at www.cancer.org.au/positionstatements under ‘SunSmart’.
Beth Gooch is a student of McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth and will be the 2009 school captain. Beth is an aspiring journalist and was an intern at mivision magazine during her school holidays. This is her first published article.