May is UV Awareness Month: Eye Health Organizations Offer Resources to ECPs and Public

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NEW YORK—In observance of May as UV Awareness Month, several eye health organizations, including Prevent Blindness, the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, are offering resources on eye health and UV safety to ECPs so that they may to educate their patients on ultraviolet radiation and the importance of protecting the eyes from the sun.

Prevent Blindness is promoting UV awareness and education on their dedicated webpage, preventblindness.org/UV, which describes the dangers of UV exposure and offers tips for choosing the best UV protection. The page also offers fact sheets such as a UV Light Awareness Quiz. Some facts Prevent Blindness emphasizes (citing information from the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are that UV rays can cause problems with the eyes such as cataract, corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, pterygium and skin cancer around the eyelids, and among causes of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, the most preventable cause is exposure to UV light.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) is providing continuing education tools to optometrists to help them better inform their patients about sun-related risks and help guide patients’ sunglass purchasing decisions. Through its SUN Initiative, a program created in partnership with the Opticians Association of America with support from Luxottica and The Vision Council, the AOA is offering three CE courses—Protect, Prescribe and Present—each available to members online free of charge in the AOA continuing educations portal, EyeLearn.

Members may also purchase the AOA’s new sunglasses shopping guide and other informational products to share with patients through the AOA Marketplace, as well as access a section of the AOA website available to the public dedicated to UV Protection.

According to the AOA's 2014 American Eye-Q Survey, only 30 percent of Americans say UV protection is the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses, the AOA said.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is recognizing May as both Healthy Vision Month and UV Safety Month, and on Academy’s EyeSmart website, a section titled “Your Eyes & the Sun” leads users to information about UV radiation and risk factors associated with sun damage. The page also hosts a list of specific articles on seasonal eye safety measures, outdoor as well as indoor precautions (specifically referring to indoor tanning) and who is most at risk for UV eye damage.

As reported by Vision Monday in March, there is a growing awareness among consumers of the need to protect eyes from glare, UV and HEV radiation and other ocular hazards. For a detailed description of the Rx sunwear market and which products, processes and programs are having the most impact, visit “Solar Power: The New Dawn of Rx Sun.”

For a shareable infographic on the topic, visit “This Is What the Sun Does to your Eyes” in the VM Multimedia section.