Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Protecting Your Eyes from the harmful UV Radiation in Sunlight

Sun Safety for your eyes

A recent survey showed that while the majority of the public were aware of the damage UV light can do to the skin, the majority of individuals surveyed, did not know that UV light can seriously damage the eyes. So, the Association of Optometrists is urging the general public to take care and be sun aware.

Exposure to UV light, found in sunlight can cause damage to or lead to cancer of the eye lids and skin around the eyes. It can speed up and increase the risk of sight threatening conditions such as cataracts and age related macular degeneration (AMD). It can also cause problems such as pterygium and pinguecula, which are growths which form on the conjunctiva of the eye and can lead to problems with the eyes in the future. Even just one day exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn of the cornea, which is painful and can cause temporary vision loss.

Just as sunlight ages the skin, it ages the eye. Research indicates that wearing the correct sunglasses can reduce aging in the eye by 20 years and reduces the risk of early cataract formation by up to 40%.

In choosing the right sunglasses, the advice is;

· Use lenses which block out 99% of UVA and UVB light

· Mirrored, polarizing and photochromatic lenses may not provide enough UV protection, additional UV filters may be required

· Fashion and designer sunglasses may not provide adequate protection or give good clarity of vision

· Lenses should provide clear distortion free vision and should not affect colour perception

· If participating in outdoor sports, choose sunglasses which suit the visual requirements of the sport and are impact resistant

· Frames should be wide and deep enough to cover the whole eye area. They should have wrap around or thick sides to prevent light leaking in.

· Most prescriptions can be made up in proper sunglass frames with lenses which are fully UV protective, polarizing and anti-glare.

· If you wear contact lenses talk to your optometrist about lenses which have built in UV filters in the lens material.

· Wear a wide brimmed hat as well as your sunglasses in very sunny conditions to maximise protection.

Children are most at risk. They are outside more and their delicate eyes are more permeable to UV radiation. 80% of sun damage to the eyes is done by the age of 18! Parents should encourage children to wear good sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.

Some medications can increase your sensitivity to light. These drugs can make your eyes more prone to sun damage. If you are taking such drugs, remember to take extra care with your eyes and be extra vigilant about protecting them from light, even in dull conditions, when outdoors.

Reprinted from the Website of the Association of Optometrists

Monday, July 27, 2009

An Bord Snip to axe Eye Care !

An Bord Snip proposes to abolish the Eye Examination for people who pay PRSI

Bord Snip proposals would cause increase in blindness and visual impairment
Proposals would also increase cost of treating blindness
The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) has warned that abolition of the Optical Benefit Scheme as proposed in the Bord Snip report would lead to an increase in blindness and visual impairment.
The AOI also warned that it would cause an increase in the overall cost to the State of treating blindness.
AOI Optometric Advisor, Lynda McGivney-Nolan said that stopping the scheme would lead to an inevitable reduction in regular eye examinations among pensioners and older people who are those most at risk of developing incurable eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
“The critical factor in prevention of visual impairment and blindness is early identification of the condition followed by appropriate treatment. The vast majority of eye examinations are performed by Optometrists (Opticians) who always check/screen for these conditions and refer for treatment when necessary.
In 2008 the Optical Benefit Scheme provided 200,000 eye examinations at a cost of €5m. The vast majority of these were for people over 55. If the scheme is discontinued it is inevitable that many people will cease to have regular eye examinations, particularly older people who are retired and living off their pension. This will significantly increase their risk of vision loss and irreversible eye disease,” she said.
A recent report from VISPA (the Visual Impairment Service Providers Association) indicated that the number of blind people in Ireland aged 55 and over would increase by 170% between 2006 and 2031. “This highlights the need for appropriate investment in the early detection of eye conditions and the measure proposed by the McCarthy Report would exacerbate this trend,” she said.
Ms. McGivney-Nolan added that an increase in the incidence of late diagnosis of eye disease would also cost the State more in the long run due to increased cost in the secondary and tertiary treatment of blindness.
The AOI also highlighted the following points:
• 98% of people over 50 need regular eye examinations.
• The majority of claimants in the Optical Benefit Scheme are over 50 and very many are retired.
• Those claiming the benefit have already paid for it through their PRSI contributions.
• The proposal flies in the face of Government policy to enhance the provision of primary health care.

Ronan Cavanagh, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 or (096) 317 9731.