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Eye Damage from UV Rays in Australia: Facts and Myths

Eye damage from UV rays is a serious matter. As eye surgeons, we see the devastating impact of the harsh Australian sun on eyes all too often.

Yes, we treat a lot of adults in our clinic, because eye diseases and cancers often show up later in life, though they begin much earlier.

The frightening thing is that our patients are getting younger. The damage is setting in sooner. And it’s showing up as eye cancer in children more often than you’d believe.

Sometimes eye damage from UV rays is not obvious. Your child may have itching or irritated eyes over a prolonged time even though on inspection your GP cannot detect anything obvious.

Eye protection from an early age (we’re talking babies) is crucial to preventing eye damage from UV rays in your children. So today we want to bring you some facts and bust some myths about eye damage from UV rays, so that Australians are equipped with the knowledge they need to protect their eyes from the sun.


Eye damage from UV rays Australia

Facts About Eye Damage From UV Rays

1. UV rays can damage eyes even on cloudy days.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an overcast day means the sun won’t harm your eyes. On cloudy days, UV light scatters, which is equally damaging as direct sunlight, but in a different way.

2. Kids’ eyes are immature and have not developed their full natural defences against harmful UV rays.
As we grow to maturity, so do our eyes and they become better at blocking UV light. A child’s eyes do not have the full set of defences yet, so they are more vulnerable than an adult’s eyes.

3. Sunscreen, shirt and hat cannot offer any protection to eyes.
This sounds obvious, so why aren’t all Australian kids wearing sunglasses outdoors? Eyes need protection from the sun just like skin does. Slip Slop Slap and SLIDE, people!

Myths About Eye Damage From UV Rays

1. Babies and kids don’t need sunnies.
Wrong. They need them most of all. Eye damage from UV rays begins at infancy and often shows up later in life.
2. Eyes don’t get cancer.
Wrong. Tumours can grow on the eye and are very often the result of UV damage from the sun. As Ophthalmologists, we see eye cancers regularly in both children and adults.
3. Cataracts are caused by ageing only.
Not so. A cataract may show up later in life, but ageing is not the only cause. Cortical cataracts result from UV damage to the eye. Protective sunglasses can guard against this form of cataract.
4. Playing in shade means sun can’t harm eyes or skin.
Wrong. Even in the shade, reflected light from the sun can bounce back off surfaces such as concrete, glass and sand. This is why people frequently get badly burnt at the beach despite their lovely big beach umbrella!
5. Sunglasses are just a fashion accessory.
No. First and foremost your sunglasses should offer protection from the sun. While many people buy their sunglasses based on brand name or aesthetics, the purpose of sunglasses is not to offset your favourite outfit (though good protective sunglasses can also look cool of course!).
6. Itchy inflamed eyes in kids is just conjunctivitis and will heal itself.
We often see serious eye diseases misdiagnosed as conjunctivitis. If your child has been complaining about eye irritation for more than a week, it’s wise to take them to a specialist for a checkup. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all eye irritation in children will simply fix itself.


Australians Need To Be Concerned About Eye Damage From The Sun

It’s true – we are the lucky country. The Australian climate is gorgeous and our lively culture of BBQs, backyard cricket, and beach fun is testimony to our country’s appreciation for outdoor fun.

But we do need to get real. Eye damage from UV rays in Australia is a critical health concern that is not yet being adequately addressed by government health initiatives or in the media.

Will you help us educate our population on this potentially devastating issue? Share our articles on your social media pages, talk to your child’s school about stocking sunglasses for students, write in to your local paper, and of course, show off your own pair of Beamers protective sunglasses whenever you’re enjoying fun in the sun.

Learn more about why Beamers Sunglasses are the only eyewear with the full protection you need from the Australian sun.