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Don’t forget the eyes this Daffodil Day: slap on a hat and slide on some shades!

With Daffodil Day (26 August) bringing much needed attention to cancer awareness and research, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is highlighting the importance of protecting your eyes from UV exposure which can lead to eye cancers. So slap on a hat and slide on some shades!

RANZCO is promoting awareness of the protective benefits of wearing sunglasses, especially wraparound sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes from UV rays and protect against eye cancer.

Ophthalmologists treat eye cancers affecting the eyelids, the surface of the eye, inside of the eye and around the eye in the orbit. Cancers on the eyelids and the surface of the eye are the most common and are similar to other skin cancers. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is more common than Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) followed by melanoma. Cancers inside the eye are rare, but can be aggressive and can even affect babies and young children.

“Prolonged exposure of the eyes to UV radiation can cause permanent eye damage including cancers on the surface of the eye and skin cancer around the eyes. It is therefore important to always protect your eyes and the eyes of your children from the sun’s harmful UV rays,” advises Sydney-based ophthalmologist Dr Jenny Danks.

“When it comes to sunglasses,” says Dr Danks, “the price tag is not always a good indicator of the quality of protection. Instead, aim for close-fitting wraparound sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses. Wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection by reducing direct and reflected UV radiation. They block the light coming from the sides that can be focused by the cornea to cause pterygiums (also known as surfer’s eye) and surface skin cancers. A broad-brimmed hat also provides great protection and can reduce UV radiation to the eyes by up to 50%.”

“People may not be aware that the darkness or colour of the sunglasses lens does not indicate the level of UV protection. It’s important to go for sunglasses that meet the Australian/New Zealand Standards, which define lenses according to the amount of UV radiation that is able to pass through. Lenses with a rating of two or above provide a good UV protection,” explains Dr Danks.

Because UV radiation is maximum in the middle of the day, it is most important to avoid sun exposure and provide sun protection from 9 am until 3 pm in winter and from 10 am until 4 pm for summer time. Since UV rays are able to penetrate clouds it is equally important to protect your eyes on overcast days. Sun exposure is increased with reflective light, making water sports and snow sports higher risk. Children spend a lot of time outdoors, so it is important for them to wear UV-blocking sunglasses as well as a hat.

Symptoms of eye cancer can include:
– Lump on the eyelids
– Repeated ulceration
– Unresolved redness of eyes
– Pigmented area
– Loss of ‘red eye’ on photographs
– Significant visual symptoms

Protecting your eyes:- Wear sunglasses when outdoors, even on a cloudy day
– Be aware of increased risk with water activities
– Avoid sun exposure 10 am – 4 pm in summer
– Aim for wraparound sunglasses that meet the Australian/New Zealand Standards.
– Wear a broad-brimmed hat as this reduces UV radiation to the eyes by 50%

 

To ensure that your sunglasses provide the adequate UV protection, you can have them tested by an optometrist. If you are concerned about your vision or you’ve noticed potential symptoms of eye cancer, speak to your GP who can refer you to an ophthalmologist (a medical eye specialist).

For more information, please see RANZCO’s Position Statement on UV Eye Protection.

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Last updated: December 10, 2018

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RANZCO acknowledges our First Australians, the Traditional Custodians of the land
on which we live and work, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
Gadigal people of the Eora Nation are the traditional custodians of the land
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