Australians love summer, and most of us know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels in summer are much higher. Even a quick 15 minute walk at lunchtime can easily result in a painful burn! But, less common is the knowledge that sun exposure can leave your vision and eyes at risk of permanent damage said the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).
UV radiation from repeated sun exposure (and solarium use) can irreversibly damage your DNA, laying the groundwork for long term eye problems, such as eyelid and periocular skin cancers and tumours on the surface of the eye.
“Eyelid and ocular surface cancers rarely kill, but they can permanently destroy your vision and are cosmetically disfiguring,” said RANZCO Ophthalmologist Dr James Muecke.
“Your eye sight is a gift, too often we see patients whose vision could have been saved if they’d worn proper sun protection.”
To try and avoid these diseases, Dr Muecke recommends wearing sunglasses and a wide brim hat, especially in summer. He stresses however, that “UV exposure at all times of the year can be a risk factor (particularly at higher altitudes), so sun protection measures should always be taken.”
When buying sun glasses look out for glasses that cover the whole eye area, and transmit little UV radiation. The Cancer Council recommends glasses labelled UV 400 or EPF (Eye Protection Factor) 9 or 10.
It’s also important to protect your children from UV radiation and teach them about sun protection – repeated UV exposure to their skin and eyes is a strong precursor for cancer in adulthood. “It may be difficult to make young kids wear sunglasses, but wearing a wide brim hat is the next best thing and protects the entire face. Fortunately many (but not all) schools insist on children wearing hats when playing outside during breaks,” said Dr Muecke.