Choose the sunwear to suit your face.
Sunglasses Are Not An Option
Some recent surveys and statistics regarding sun protection, patient knowledge, and the actions of eye care professionals have caused me great concern.
Consider some of the following eye-opening (pun intended) findings: According to a 2010 Eye-Q Survey, 35% of American adults are completely unaware of the eye-health risks associated with spending too much time in the sun. That means that more than one in three of the patients who walk through our door are in need of some eye education. And I hate to say it, but the 35% who are aware of the dangers of UV exposure may not have ECPs to thank for that.
The UV Index that was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service has made many Americans aware of sunburn and skin cancer as it relates to sun exposure. It’s up to ECPs to communicate that pingueculae, pterygia, and photokeratitis can all be caused by not protecting the eye against ultraviolet rays. More serious ocular conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) are of paramount concern.
People need protection.
If the fact that 35% of our patients are blissfully unaware of the
dangers of UV exposure isn’t enough to cause concern, how
about this one: 33% of Americans who wear prescription eyeglasses
are unaware that sunglasses are even available in prescription form.
How can that be? Most ECPs simply cannot believe that statistic.
You have to remember that the reason why one in three people don’t
know they can get prescription eyewear is that they are ECLPs not
ECPs – an ECLP of course, being an Eye Care Lay Person! They
simply do not have the knowledge and training that we do.
The bad news is revealed in the very next question I posed to the
same ECPs in attendance, which sought to discover how often they
took steps to actually present the opportunity for their patients
to purchase what they themselves described as an “absolute
necessity.” I asked the attendees a simple yes or no question:
Do you ask every patient who purchases prescription eyeglasses about
purchasing a second pair of prescription sunglasses? The results?
Shockingly, only 29% of these front-line dispensers answered yes;
71% said no. What that reveals is a disappointing, yet undeniable
disconnect. Almost everyone said sunglasses are a necessity not
an option, yet less than a third even bring up sunglasses to their
Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to the small toddlers in the jogging stroller she pushes in front of her as she burns those pesky calories. Tim described how the kids are routinely squinting, turning away from the sun in obvious discomfort, and shading their eyes with their hands. The mother is obviously oblivious not only to their immediate discomfort, but also to the potential damage she is allowing to occur to the eyes of the kids she loves. Tim feels like he should stop and say something to her, and eventually I bet he will.
Children should not be an afterthought when it comes to sunglasses
– they should be a top priority. What kind of information
can we share with the parents and guardians of the kids we’re
trying to protect that might persuade them to invest in sunglasses
for them? Begin with a brief explanation about UV exposure, the
sun, and the damage they can cause. Remember, more than a third
are unaware. Moreover, be sure to inform them that the underdeveloped
juvenile eyes are more susceptible to the damage. If that doesn’t
convince them, be sure to share the fact that whatever damage is
done to the eyes by UV exposure (that causes cataracts, ARMD, etc.)
it is cumulative – that is, the damage “adds up”
from birth and can cause the premature development of the ocular
maladies related to sun damage.
Photochromic lenses are an alternative.
Additionally, with a pair of Transitions, parents and kids don’t have to worry about keeping track of a second pair, and they are acceptable in most school districts that restrict students from wearing sunglasses on campus - a win-win alternative to the second pair. --
POINTS TO PONDER
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