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Protect eyes from harmful UV rays warns Vision Express this National Sun Awareness Week

Press Release   •   May 09, 2014 13:46 BST

National optical retailer Vision Express is warning people of all ages to be aware of the damaging impact the sun can have on their eyes, this National Sun Awareness Week (5-11 May).

Developed by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), the annual campaign raises awareness of skin cancer whilst offering advice on prevention and cure. Vision Express is further reinforcing the campaign’s message of being ‘safe in the sun’ by explaining the dangerous impact sun can have on sight whilst providing some easy to follow protection tips.

“Sight loss has been named as one the most feared illnesses in the UK, yet few people protect their eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays,” explains Omar Hassan, Head of Professional Development at Vision Express.

“We want to encourage everyone to get into the routine of covering their eyes as they do their skin – it really doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive or complicated - it is all about getting into good habits and could prevent sight problems such as cataracts, which are accelerated by the sun, in later life.”

Here, Vision Express provides its tips on sun protection:

Start young - up to 80% of a person's lifetime exposure to UV will occur before the age of 18, according to a study by the World Health Organisation. Young people's eyes are more sensitive to UV absorption and under-12s are particularly susceptible because the clear lenses in their eyes are not yet properly formed. Despite this, one in five parents does not take any measures to protect their children's eyes. In addition to sunglasses, parasols and wide peaked hats and caps offer suitable protection, particularly for babies and toddlers. Be safe all year round – UV light is extremely damaging to the cornea and lens in the eye and can cause them to discolour and become opaque with age. Sun protection is crucial, not on only holidays and during the summer months, but throughout the year, even in winter sun. Polarised sunglasses offer the best protection and even contact lenses and non-sun glasses shield the sun. Don’t be afraid to make a statement – not only can sunglasses enhance your outfit and make you look fantastic, they also have a serious message behind them associated with good eye health. Buying sunglasses doesn’t need to be expensive, many will provide adequate protection, but it is worth investing in a good pair with full UV defences, if you are going to be spending a lot of time in them! Have regular eye examinations – the best way to protect eyes is by having regular check-ups, these will highlight any sight problems or damage and can determine other health issues such as high cholesterol and even diabetes. Children under 16 are entitled to free eye tests and discounted glasses, on the NHS.

Omar concludes: “Studies tell us two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and forecasters predict a further half a million could lose their sight by the year 2020. So, our advice is to always be ‘sun safe’ and follow these preventative measures to help safeguard sight as you age.”