The Dangers of UV Damage

With summer now far behind us and the winter sports season upon us, it is essential to continue to raise awareness of the importance of protecting eyes from UV damage at all times. A UK survey of contact lens wearers has shown that while 65% of them are concerned about protecting their eyes from harmful UV rays only 6% consider using protection on a cloudy day. Further to this, 90% state they only feel exposed to UV rays in summer,1 however, it is well established that UV exposure can be a significant risk all year round and the hours of peak exposure for the eyes can differ from those of skin.

Eyes on Health, week 10 - The Dangers of UV
Eyes on Health, week 10 - The Dangers of UV
During winter the dangers of UV still exist with 50% of the UV radiation our eyes receive coming from indirect sources, such as reflections from ice and snow on the ground. Not only can UV rays pierce cloud cover, they reflect off all surfaces in any weather. New research shows eyes are particularly vulnerable to UV light exposure in the early morning and late afternoon, when people least expect it. As Eye Care Professionals we should remind our patients that protection from UV rays is important to eye health.Daska Burnett, Optometrist, London
Zeal Sports Eyewear
Zeal Sports Eyewear

Overexposure to UV radiation has been linked to a number of eye diseases, the most serious of which include macular degeneration and cataracts.As many winter sports such as skiing take place on snow, the eye is exposed to more UV radiation than usual, because snow reflects as much as 80% of UV radiation.2 Reflected radiation can be even more dangerous than direct sunlight because people are more likely to look down than up so the light is reflected straight into the eyes. Furthermore, fewer UV rays are absorbed by the atmosphere at high altitude, meaning that more rays can get through to cause damage to the skin and eyes.

Damage can also be caused in relatively short time periods: a one-hour exposure to UV reflected off snow around midday is enough to cause a threshold photokeratitis, also known as snow-blindness.3

With this in mind building a dialogue with our patients is necessary; not only to educate them on the health dangers but to ensure they make an educated decision on the right product to help protect their eyes.Daska Burnett

Overexposure to UV radiation has been linked to a number of eye diseases, the most serious of which include macular degeneration and cataracts.4 By communicating these dangers Eye Care Professionals can raise awareness of the need to protect the eyes against UV exposure for both children and adults this winter, especially when they are taking part in winter sports.

UV blocking contact lenses

In the UK there is a growing demand for UV protection products1 however, in spite of this 74% of UK contact lens wearers are not aware that contact lenses can offer UV protection.1 Research from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care has shown that 75% of contact lens wearers would be willing to pay extra for UV protection1 and, for those requiring visual correction, the best UV protection for eyes is the combination of wearing contact lenses with built-in UV blockers and good quality wrap-around goggles or sunglasses.

Zeal Sunglasses
Zeal Sunglasses

Not all contact lenses offer UV protection, or similar absorption levels. UV-blocking contact lenses have been shown to help protect the eyes from sun damage5 and 1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye™ offers Class 1 UV-blocking, providing the highest level of UV protection of any daily disposable contact lens. In addition all ACUVUE® Johnson & Johnson Brand Contact Lenses offer UV blocking protection filters and protect the eyes against 85% of UVA rays and 98% of UVB rays, as standard across the range.6

1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye™ and ACUVUE® are trademarks of Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd. Johnson and Johnson Medical Ltd. 2009.
1 UK respondents Johnson & Johnson and Millward Brown data on file (N=400). 2012.
2 Cruickshanks, KJ, R Klein, and BEK Klein. Sunlight and age-related macular degeneration. The Beaver Dam eye study. Arch Ophthalmol, 1993: 111:524-8
3 International Programme on Chemical Safety. Ultraviolet radiation. 2nd Edition. E.H.C, 1994
4 Chalam KV, Khetpal V, Rusovici R et al. A review: role of ultraviolet radiation in age-related macular degeneration. Eye & Contact
5 Chandler, H., Prevention of UV-Induced Damage to the Anterior Segment Using Class UV Absorbing Hydrogel Contact Lenses, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2010
6 All ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses have Class 1 or Class 2 UV-blocking to help provide protection against transmission of harmful UV radiation to the cornea and into the eye. UV-absorbing contact lenses are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area.