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Eye Protection from UV Radiation

With Australia having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, the Cancer Council of Australia has been working to help prevent and reduce the rate of skin cancer.  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.

UV radiation from the sun or even 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 also result in more serious damage to the eyes, including cataracts, pterygium, squamous cell carcinoma (cancer), solar keratopathy, cancer of the conjunctiva and skin cancer of the eyelids and surrounding eye.

The cancer council recommends people wear top quality glasses and lenses that meet Australian standards.  The cancer council says that 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 people who wear glasses consider having UV protection coating added to enhance everyday protection.

Eye protection recommendations:

  • - Reduce UV exposure as much as possible.
  • - Wear a broad-brimmed hat.
  • - Wear close-fitting wrap around style sunglasses that meet Australian standards.
  • - Wear glasses which transmit very little UV radiation, such as those labelled UV400.
  • - Do not wear sunglasses at night as this reduces visibility.

Sunglasses that meet Australian standards available in prescription from $130 complete.

This article was published on Saturday 24 January, 2009.