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Survey: Australians lack awareness of UV risk to eye health

05/03/2019By Myles Hume
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The mainstream media’s focus on blue light filters and consumer confusion may be contributing to Australian’s poor understanding of the risks associated with ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

According to a national survey conducted by Carl Zeiss Australia, many Australians do not recognise the full effect UV light has on eyes.

In findings that the company described as “alarming”, its recently published MyEyeQ Report found that 73% of respondents were unaware most eye-related UV damage happened before the age of 18, and 45% were not aware of the level of UV protection their sunglasses provided.

Additionally, 71% of spectacle wearers did not know the level of UV protection their lenses offered.

According to Carl Zeiss Australia, unsubstantiated concerns about blue light risk and a lack of understanding regarding protection levels could be preventing consumers from fully comprehending the risks of UV light.

According to the survey results, 62% of parents found it difficult to understand the UV protection levels displayed on children’s sunglasses.

“To some degree, the blue light conversation has eclipsed UV concerns. While the media has latched on to 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,” Ms Hilke Fitzsimons, Carl Zeiss Australia general manager said.



“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.”
Hilke Fitzsimons, Carl Zeiss Australia

“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.”

Fitzsimons said that in some cases product labelling could be misleading. For example, some companies claim ‘full UV protection’ on lenses that only protect from light up to 380nm. To achieve full UV protection, lenses need to withstand up to 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,” she said.

The survey also stated that while 66% of Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, some were not aware the eyelid region was one of the most common sites for nonmelanoma skin cancers.

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Despite this risk, 33% of respondents indicated they were more concerned about protecting their skin from sun damage than their eyes, while almost half of Australians were 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,” Fitzsimons said.

“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.”

The survey involved 1,000 participants from across Australia.

 

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