Despite past harm, many adults overlooking sunglasses to protect eyes

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Three-quarters of Americans are concerned about potential eye problems from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, yet only 31 percent protect their eyes with UV-protective eyewear every time they go outside, according to a new report by The Vision Council. Based on a nationwide survey of more than 10,000 adults, the report finds 34 percent of adults have experienced symptoms of prolonged UV exposure, such as eye irritation, trouble seeing, and red or swollen eyes.

“UV damage to your eyes can start in as little as 15 minutes,” said Justin Bazan, OD, medical adviser to The Vision Council.  “Many Americans don’t realize the health consequences that can occur from overexposure to the sun’s rays without the right eye protection.”

The report, Spare Your Sight: Using Shades for Protection and Style, shows that even though Americans fear vision loss, taking the protective measure of wearing sunglasses is not a high priority.  Sunglasses are often forgotten or just not kept on hand, while the protective value of sunscreen and hats to shield skin from UV damage seems to be better understood and more frequently practiced. In the survey, Americans were much more likely to identify the long-term effects of the sun on skin – such as skin cancer (51 percent) and sunburn (42 percent) – compared with the serious UV impacts on vision, such as sunburned eyes (31 percent), cataracts (26 percent) or age-related macular degeneration (21 percent).

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Many Americans are only sporting sunglasses when they are outside for two or more hours (39 percent).
  • Parents are more likely to wear shades always or often (56 percent) than their children (29 percent).
  • Millennials are least likely to protect their vision: 55 percent of people in their 20s never, rarely or only sometimes wear sunglasses.

To mitigate the risks of UV-related eye damage, The Vision Council recommends purchasing sunglasses from a reputable source and looking for a label on the lens or frame that indicates UVA and UVB protection.

To view or download a copy of the report, visit


The Vision Council commissioned the VisionWatch Survey in December 2015, surveying 10,279 adults 18 and older through an online survey tool. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Stephanie Wight at [email protected].   

SOURCE The Vision Council

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