Well this is an eye-opener... Are your kids sun safe in WINTER?

While many of us may relax our sun/UV protection and ‘slip, slop, slap’ processes during winter, and may be a tad less strict when it comes to kids and their hats and sunglasses, we’re being warned that UV rays are still present and can still do harm.

Gold Coast residents are being warned to be more vigilant about protecting their eyes in winter as lower sun angles and UV exposure on unprotected eyes put them at greater risk of cataracts, and skin cancers around the eyelids.

A group of optometrists from the Gold Coast is calling on locals to protect their eyes from potentially dangerous UV exposure, even though the sun may not be at its strongest.

“Eyes are exposed to UV radiation every day of the year, especially somewhere that gets year-round sun like the Gold Coast, and winter can be a more dangerous time than any other because of the lower angle of the sun in the sky,” says Andrew Gospos, of Medispecs Optical in Robina.

Children are particularly in danger of UV exposure, according to Andrew Bowden, from Envision Optical in Burleigh.
“Kids are especially at risk because they spend significant time outdoors playing and wear sun protective lenses much less commonly than adults do,” he says.
Children need good quality sunglasses to protect their eyes.
(Image supplied along with the information for Gold Coast Mum's editorial consideration.)

Despite UV levels being higher in spring and summer, eyes are naturally shaded during the hotter months as they are deep set - and thus partially protected when the sun is high in the sky. However, this means there can be more direct exposure on winter days when the sun sits lower.

Another optometrist in the group, Patrick Egan, from Murwillumbah Optometrist, says virtually everyone living here is out and about a lot, leading active lifestyles, “Everyone is at risk of UV exposure.
“Even people who are just out taking a walk on the beach every morning need to be aware of it,” he said.

UV damage to eyes is cumulative and irreversible, and is believed to contribute to several serious eye conditions that can result in vision loss, including cataracts and corneal degeneration.

It is also considered a cause of skin cancer around the eyes and eyelids, which accounts for  5-10 per cent of skin cancer patients.

“You can protect your eyes from UV exposure by wearing high quality sunglasses that block UVA and UVB whenever you are exposed to sunlight all year round,” says Mr Gospos. “Make sure that you get good quality sunnies for the kids too.”

The optometrists recommend looking for UV-filtering lenses that are approved by the Cancer Council of Australia.

With an estimated 3 million people going blind every year due to prolonged UV exposure, it’s important for everyone to take further steps to look after their eyes, they say.

Are you/ your kids sun/UV safe during winter? Are you strict about sunglasses?

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