Monday, June 8, 2015

How To Protect Your Eyes from UV Damage

My father passed away from Melanoma Skin Cancer when I was two months old. Therefore, I've spent all of my life being aware of the sun and the damage that it can do. Given my family history and the fact that I'm a pale, freckly, red head - the sun has never been my friend. As a mom to three fair skinned kids (one less than the others), I feel like my family goes through gallons of sunblock each summer. MUST PROTECT OUR SKIN! However, I had honestly never really thought about protecting our eyes before. The kids wear hats but again that is for skin protection more than anything else. Last year when I thought I was going blind (turned out I was just getting old which you can read about HERE), I bought a pair of sunglasses that I occasionally wear. Before that I didn't even own a pair. So when I was recently asked to listen in on a webinar for The Vision Council I was very interested to hear what they had to say. How had I gone this long in life being somewhat obsessively concerned about skin damage and never even considered my eyes?

During the webinar, I was able to hear Dr. Dora Adamopoulous discuss the recent findings of the 2015 Vision Council's UV Protection Report. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:
  • 1 in 4 Americans rarely or never wear sunglasses
  • Unprotected UV exposure can cause sunburned eyes, cataracts, and macular degeneration (vision loss/blindness)
  • 65% of Americans consider sunglasses a fashion accessory and not a necessity
  • Sunglasses should be worn year round (even on cloudy days)
  • Peak UV times for eyes is 8am-10am and 2pm-4pm
  • Eye damage is cumulative and can never be reversed
  • Unlike the mature lens of an adult eye, a child’s ocular lens cannot effectively filter out UV rays so more harmful radiation reaches the retina.
So now that you're sufficiently scared about UV radiation and your eyes, what can you do?
  • Buy sunglasses from a reputable retailer. You don't need to spend a lot of money but you want to know that you are getting a quality pair.
  • Buy glasses with UVA/UVB protection. Most glasses have a sticker or label indicating their coverage. If the glasses don't have a sticker or you are not sure of the coverage - get a different pair.
  • Choose glasses that best fit your lifestyle in order to ensure that you use them frequently. Also, for children consider a wrap around style or similar so that they stay put.
So really the main takeaway is wear your sunglasses as frequently as possible and have your family members do the same. Since the webinar, I'm definitely trying harder to wear mine more often and working on it with the kids, too. I think I might buy a case for each of the kids to keep their sun glasses in in order to protect them from scratches. I'm naively hopeful that maybe they'll take better care of them if they have a special home for them. Although, I have no doubt that within a week Henry will have lost both his sunglasses and the case. One battle at a time...!
The future's so bright we gotta wear shades
*Disclosure: I attended The Vision Council's webinar and received a complimentary Sun Safe Swag Bag. As always, all opinions are my own.
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