A Bega optometrist is encouraging locals to be sun safe this summer, as new research commissioned by Specsavers has found 61 per cent of NSW residents are not aware the sun can cause permanent damage to eyes.
A Specsavers media release states Australia has one of the highest levels of UV in the world and one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
Therefore, optometrists around the country are calling for Australians to be more sun smart, wear sun protection and have their eyes checked if they think they might have a problem.
"The reality is that living in Australia means that we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation when we're outside, even when it's not bright and sunny," Specsavers Bega optometrist Vivian Vuong said.
"While our eyelids are designed to protect our eyes, the skin around our eyes is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can easily be damaged by UV light.
"UV damage to the eye and eyelid increases risk of serious conditions such as eyelid skin cancers, intraocular melanoma, conjunctival cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration and more."
Ms Vuong said unlike skin, where sun damage may be more visibly obvious, it is not necessarily the case when it comes to the eyes as you may not notice symptoms until well after the damage is done.
"People may not realise that symptoms such as redness, blurry vision, swelling, light sensitivity, seeing halos and experiencing watery eyes can all be possible symptoms of sun damage to the eyes," she said.
The research, by YouGov of a sample of 1000 Australians, also found almost half of NSW residents do not wear sunglasses most of the time when they are outside.
"The same way you put on sunscreen and a hat to protect your body, you should ensure you are wearing sunglasses that block out UV," Ms Vuong said.
"I would recommend sunglasses that have polarised lenses because they not only offer 100 per cent UV protection for your eyes, but they also eliminate 99.9 per cent of glare caused by reflected light."
She said many people believe that sunglasses only need to be worn on a hot sunny day at the beach, for example, but regardless of whether it is clear skies and high temperatures or not, as a preventative measure you should be wearing them every time you are outside.
"Even if it is an overcast day, UV rays are still present, so we also want to encourage good sun safe habits for years to come," she said.