Americans Underestimate Serious Eye Health Risks of UV Radiation

1 in 4 Americans Rarely or Never Use Sunglasses, Endangering Vision

May 19, 2015, 10:47 ET from The Vision Council

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report released today by The Vision Council finds more than 25 percent of U.S. adults rarely or never wear sunglasses, leaving eyes at risk of serious damage from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, and nearly two-thirds are unaware of the link between UV exposure and eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. The findings, based on a survey of 2,000 adults by the Harris Poll, are detailed in the report, Protection for the Naked Eye: Sunglasses as a Health Necessity. 

"Protecting our eyes is often 'out of sight, out of mind,' but the same UV exposure that causes sunburns, wrinkles and skin cancer also damages our ocular health," said Justin Bazan, OD, medical adviser to The Vision Council. "Because UV exposure happens over a lifetime and doesn't always produce immediate symptoms, people of all ages must be aware of the negative impact sunlight can have on our eyes--without adequate protection like sunglasses."

Temporary UV-related eye problems like photokeratitis (sunburn of eye) or pterygium (growth on the surface of the eye) can cause the eyes to become bloodshot, irritated, swollen or hyper-sensitive to light. Cumulative exposure to UV radiation can accelerate serious eye disorders including cataracts, AMD, and even cancer of the eye, eye-lid and surrounding skin.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • More than one-third of parents report that their children 13 and under rarely or never wear shades, despite the fact that children are at increased risk for UV overexposure.
  • Nearly 2 in 3 Americans (63%) leave eyes unguarded on cloudy or rainy days and 3 in 10 Americans (31%) don't protect their eyes in the winter—even though UV rays have damaging potential regardless of the season.
  • Sunglass use is highest among women 65 and over (63%) and lowest among Millennial men ages 18 to 34 (37%).

To mitigate the risks of UV-related eye damage, The Vision Council recommends:

  • Applying your knowledge – Make UV protection a crucial consideration when buying sunglasses.
  • Considering your options – Look for lenses and frames designed for specific activities and lifestyles.
  • Knowing where to go – Purchase sunglasses from a reputable source and look for a label indicating UVA and UVB protection.

To view or download a copy of the report, visit

SOURCE The Vision Council