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Saturday / April 13.
HomeminewsSurvey Highlights Ignorance Surrounding UV and Eyes

Survey Highlights Ignorance Surrounding UV and Eyes

The majority of Australians (73%) are unaware that most damage to the eyes from UV light happens before age 18, according to a national consumer study conducted by Zeiss. Almost half (45%) of survey respondents were not aware of the level of UV protection in their sunglasses and 71% of spectacle wearers were not aware of how much UV protection their lenses offer.

Australia is referred to as ‘the skin cancer capital of the world’ and accounts for 80% of all new cancer diagnoses each year. While two out of three Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, people may not be aware the eyelid region is one of the most common sites for non-melanoma skin cancers, in addition to the many other forms of eye damage resulting from high UV exposure. Despite this risk, one in three respondents indicated they are more concerned about protecting their skin from sun damage than their eyes, while almost half of Australians (45%) are only ‘somewhat concerned’ about the risk of eye damage from UV light.

“We are fed so much information these days about skin anti-aging and sun damage, but it’s important people understand our eyes face the same risks, and the damage begins early,” said Hilke Fitzsimons, General Manager, Carl Zeiss Australia.

“Photoaging of the skin around the eyes, several cancers on the skin around the eye and within the eye, cataracts, macular degeneration, and preventable blindness are among the consequences of UV exposure. Consumers need to take this information very seriously.”

CONFUSED MARKET

Parents surveyed indicated they were very concerned about protecting their children’s skin and eyes from sun damage; 79% said they want their children’s sunglasses and spectacles to have the highest levels of UV protection possible. However, there is also widespread confusion about what to buy, with 62% of parents saying they find it difficult to understand UV protection levels on children’s sunglasses, along with 61% of parents with children who wear spectacles.

Ms Fitzsimons said categorisations and labelling can be misleading.

“There’s a difference between good intentions and actually doing the right thing, but it can be hard to distinguish the two,” she said. “There are different levels of UV protection, different categories of lens, and labelling can be misleading; for example, some companies claim ‘full UV protection’ on lenses that only protect up to 380nm – to achieve full UV protection you need lenses that are 400nm.

“People are also confused by the distinction between things like UV protection and polarisation. Polarisation eliminates glare and can be more comfortable for the eyes but does not offer any additional UV protection.”

BLUE LIGHT FEARS RISING

The survey found that overall concern about the risk to eyes from blue light was 66%, marginally below overall concern about UV light at 78%.

“To some degree, the blue light conversation has eclipsed UV concerns. While the media has latched onto blue light, there is no firm clinical evidence to suggest that blue light from digital devices poses a health risk anywhere close to that of UV,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

“Australians recognise they need to protect their eyes, but they are underestimating the risks and are confused by what they see on the shelves and hear in the media. The industry has an important role to play in consumer education and purchase behaviour.”

TIPS WHEN COMMUNICATING WITH CONSUMERS

Ms Fitzsimons suggested communicating the following UV protection tips to consumers purchasing eyewear:

  • The Australian/New Zealand Standard 1067:2003 requires that lenses are tested and labelled, and ranks sunglasses from zero to four depending on how much UV protection they offer; zero being very low protection and four being very good protection. Eyewear glasses labelled ‘fashion spectacles’ (categories zero and one) are not sunglasses and do not provide enough UV protection. Look for glasses properly labelled as category two or above.
  • Ideally, purchase eyewear labelled ‘UV400’ or 400nm (full UV protection) – 380nm is not full UV protection, even if the label claims so.
  • For spectacle wearers, it is possible to achieve full UV protection in clear lenses. Zeiss UVProtect clear lenses are the only product on the market offering UV400 (full UV protection) and an Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of 10.
  • For parents of young children, make it a special event to purchase your child’s sunglasses or spectacles so they feel excited to wear them often.
  • Remember to protect your eyes on cold and cloudy days too. UV is always around, even if you can’t see it.

Findings from the national survey were published in its MyEyeQ Report.