The release of The Vision Council’s report last month on sunwear and the dangers of ultra-violet (UV) rays has put UV back into the spotlight. “Protection for the Naked Eye: Sunglasses as a Health Necessity,” is a 16-page, consumer-focused document that contains data, graphics, and tips. The report can be found at: thevisioncouncil.org/sites/default/files/VC_UV_Report2015-FINAL.pdf.
The study unearths some disappointing data. For example, as people get older, they tend to wear sunglasses more. Data indicates that 58% of those beyond the Baby Boomer years often or always wear sunglasses while 53% of Boomers fall into this category. Also, the majority of Generation X folks fall into this category while only 43% of Millennials are part of this group.
Even more disappointing is that 89% of women and 84% of men wear sunglasses primarily for comfort, not for UV protection. Consumers most often wear sunglasses for driving, walking, at the beach or a pool, and they use them least frequently for running and biking, gardening, or team sports.
While the topic of UV and the harm it can cause the eyes is nothing new for ECPs, it’s still an emerging story for consumers. More importantly, the position of the eyecare community that sunwear is a medical necessity for consumers is a tipping point in the effort to get the American public to accept sunwear as a mandatory part of their everyday life.
Everybody knows that sunglasses are fashionable and sunwear manufacturers and distributors work tirelessly at promoting this image- it’s a huge reason why folks buy sunglasses, especially plano sunwear. Even so, eyeglass wearers do not need to look cool outdoors, their health will be just as protected if they wear a blue pair over a green or red one or a semi-rimless one over a full-rimmed model. They can avoid or ignore the fashion side of sunwear and experience no physical harm, but if they learn that the sun can cause short- and long-term harm to their eyes and that sunwear will protect them from that, it is something they will want because now it is a medical necessity. They’d be foolish to ignore that recommendation.
Many ECPs have been explaining the type of harm that UV can cause the eyes but others have not accepted the position that sunwear is a medical necessity. If we all did this with every patient, sunwear sales would soar.
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