Regular sunglass use reduces exposure to UV rays and the risk of developing cataracts later in life
The season for patios, beaches and outdoor activity is upon us, and as Canadians spend more time in the sun, their risk of getting cataracts increases without adequate protection of sunglasses from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As June also marks Cataract Awareness Month, it becomes all the more important to raise awareness and educate Canadians about cataracts, the primary cause of vision loss.
Despite cataracts impacting over 2.5 million individuals in Canada today, a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) reveals that 38 per cent of Canadians are still unfamiliar with the disease and the majority (73 per cent) are unaware it’s the leading cause of blindness. Additionally, when it comes to protecting their eyes from harmful UV rays, younger Canadians are not taking enough precaution: only a third of respondents say that their children regularly wear sunglasses on a sunny day (33 per cent) or during the summer months (32 per cent). Just 13 per cent say their children wear them on a cloudy day, despite the fact that UV rays are still present.
“Cumulative, prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays increases the risk of developing cataracts and other eye conditions,” says Dr. Phil Hooper, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “Over time, this exposure gradually causes the lens to become clouded, resulting in increasingly blurred or hazy vision that eventually interferes with everyday activities. Wearing sunglasses across all seasons, from a young age, will help protect the eyes from UV exposure, reducing the risk of developing cataracts later in life.”
While this eye disease is more common in people over 60, taking the necessary precaution from a young age will only help decrease their chances of getting this eye disease in the future.
To address the survey findings, the COS urges Canadians to take proactive steps to protect their eyes from UV radiation and cataracts. The following recommendations are essential:
- Encourage consistent use of sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection even on cloudy days, as some UV rays can still pass through even under extreme overcast.
- Promote UV-protective eyewear for car rides: UVA rays can penetrate glass, so emphasize the importance of wearing sunglasses in vehicles to minimize UV exposure during travel.
- Advocate for year-round eye protection: Educate your peers about the need to wear sunglasses throughout the year, not only during the summer months, to maintain optimal eye health.
For more information and resources on UV safety, cataract prevention, and overall eye health, please visit seethepossibilities.ca.
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.
SOURCE Canadian Ophthalmological Society
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