Australians too relaxed on winter eye protection


Bupa is encouraging Australians to protect their eyes against the unexpected dangers of the winter sun with its optometrists concerned over widespread complacency.

Research commissioned by Optometry Australia has revealed 76 per cent of Australians do not believe it is necessary to wear ultraviolet (UV) protective sunglasses during winter. This is despite a range of factors that can lead to the development or worsening of serious eye issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Bupa Optical Optometrist Karen Makin said the UV Factor is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to the danger of the sun to your eyes.

“With the sun sitting lower in the sky, your eyes are actually more likely to absorb direct UV rays and these are often intensified by reflections off wet surfaces after it rains.

“People are also more likely to be driving during sunrise and sunset where sun glare can impair your vision and increase your chance of having an accident. So if you have sunglasses, it’s advisable to wear them as you would in summer,” said Ms Makin

The research also revealed only half the people surveyed placed significant importance on the UV protection level of their sunglasses. Almost 15 per cent place no importance on the UV protection level of their sunglasses

“Not all sunglasses are created equal so make sure you shop at a reputable optical store where an optometrist can advise what level of UV protection a pair might have and whether it is suitable for your lifestyle. For example, if you spend lots of time driving or outdoors, you may wish to choose a pair with polarised lenses that provide additional protection against sun glare.

“Given the risk that the winter sun presents, it’s vital that Australians who don’t have sunglasses or need new ones don’t wait until summer to get their eyes tested (if appropriate) or to buy a new pair, you risk the potential for irreversible damage by delaying,” added Ms Makin.