To help educate Canadians on the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun just as much as their skin, Transitions Optical has unveiled a new campaign focused on the need for total sun protection.

The multi-tiered campaign includes the release of new survey findings, an initiative focused on eye sun awareness with the Canadian Dermatology Association and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, a panel discussion with industry experts, and new educational resources.

The announcement was made Jan. 29, 2017 in Orlando at Transitions Academy 2017, the company’s annual education event for optical industry professionals across North America.

We know that people are concerned about the sun’s UV rays, but protecting their skin is often more top-of-mind than protecting their eyes,” said Patience Cook, director, North America Marketing, Transitions Optical. “By starting a dialogue around total sun protection, we hope to encourage people to take proactive steps all year long to reduce the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays, like damage to eyesight.”

New Research on Total Sun Protection

New research from Transitions Optical, conducted by Wakefield Research, shows the need for education on the importance of eye sun protection.

The December 2016 survey of 1,000 Canadian adults finds that Canadians are equally as concerned about protecting their eyes from the sun’s UV rays as they are their skin (88 percent each), but are more likely to take steps to protect their skin than their eyes. The survey found that only 59 percent of Canadian eyeglass wearers wear protective eyeglasses (either regular eyeglasses with UV protection or photochromic lenses). Yet, 71 percent in this same group apply sunscreen.

The survey also revealed the need for education on the importance of year-round protection, given that more than half of Canadians surveyed think that sun protection is only needed in warmer, summer months. For instance, 93 percent feel the need to protect their skin from the sun’s UV rays during the month of July, but only 19 percent feel the same in November.

Eye Sun Public Awareness Campaign

Transitions Optical is supporting the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) with an unrestricted educational grant to fund an Eye Sun Awareness Campaign designed to help educate Canadians on the eye health risks associated with UV radiation and how to protect themselves.

The campaign will reach millions of Canadians and will feature a dedicated website with videos, infographics, written content, social media and more, which eyecare professionals can share in their practices and through their own social media networks.

The call to action is simple: When outdoors, protect your eyes,” said Jennifer Brunet-Colvey, executive director and chief executive officer, COS, which serves as the national, public voice for ophthalmology and a recognized authority on eye and vision care, “Your eyes, like your skin, are vulnerable to UV rays from the sun, and unprotected exposure can cause short-term pain and discomfort or even have the long-term effect of jeopardizing your vision and increasing your risk of many serious eye diseases, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and more.”

You can’t put sunscreen on your eyes,” says Chantal Courchesne, chief executive officer, CDA, which provides public education on sun protection and promotes a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails, “So it is important to take protective measures like wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses with UV protection, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and seeking shade whenever possible. This is important for everyone, but especially Canadians who spend a lot of time outdoors and for children, as they are more susceptible to the sun’s UV rays.”

Expert Panel Discussion

To further the conversation on total sun protection, representatives from the CDA and COS will be joined by practicing eyecare professionals and representatives of the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Opticians Association for a panel discussion in March.

The panel will explore different types of light, options for protection, consumer awareness and misconceptions, and what can be done to further increase education around sun protection. The outcome of this panel discussion will be used in the creation of new educational materials.