Friday, October 22, 2010

Many Georgians in the Dark When Protecting Their Eyes From the Sun

/PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to working and playing in the great outdoors, many Americans know they should keep their skin protected from the sun; however, a new survey from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa)'s parent company and Transitions Optical, Inc. indicates that the majority of active participants are unaware of the potential damage the sun can have on their eyes – and the eyes of their children – when they are outside, no matter the time of year.

The results of an online omnibus survey of 2,500 Americans ages 18 and older conducted on behalf of BCBSGA's parent company and Transitions indicate that many participants rarely consider the potential risks to their vision from the sun. In fact, when thinking about the harmful effects of extended sun exposure, the majority of participants focus on things like sunburn (92 percent), skin cancer (91 percent), heat stroke/exhaustion (82 percent), dehydration (78 percent) and wrinkles (77 percent).

According to the survey, many participants were unable to identify the basic facts about sun exposure on their eyes, particularly when it came to children's increased risk of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. For example, only a third of participants (36 percent) know that children's eyes are at greater risk from the effects of UV rays than adults.

Additionally, the survey reports that nearly four in ten consumers (37 percent) find it difficult to wear protective eyewear like sunglasses as much as they should. The top reason most participants say they don't wear protective eyewear more often is because they forget to bring it with them. Nine out of ten participants (90 percent) say that if a convenient, effective way to protect their eyes and their child's eyes were available, they would be likely to purchase the product.

"Many parents tell us they tend to think more about the sun's effect on their child's skin rather than on their eyes," said Jeff Spahr, staff vice president of Vision and Voluntary Services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. "And many parents with children 18 and younger say they're more likely to tell their child to put on sunscreen than protective eyewear when they go outdoors."

"We know how important it is to protect one's eyes from the sun," said Spahr. "We believe that our vision benefit offerings should provide our members with a viable solution to protecting their eyes, and because of this, we now offer Transitions lenses as a covered benefit for members. These lenses automatically protect eyes from UVA and UVB rays, and offer a convenient solution for our members who wear corrective lenses."

Additional survey results include:

* Nearly six out of ten participants (58 percent) agree there are times they don't adequately protect their eyes from the sun even though they know they should. Furthermore, four out of ten participants (41 percent) report that when they go outdoors, they rarely think about protecting their eyes from the sun.

* Older Americans are significantly more likely than younger Americans to believe that people should start protecting their eyes from the sun in early childhood.

* More than half of the participants (55 percent) say they wish they would've taken better care of their eyes when they were younger.

* When asked to identify whether the statement "children's eyes are at greater risk from the effects of UV than adults" is true or false, nearly half of parents of children 18 and younger (48 percent) said they didn't know.

"We believe this national survey revealed a number of findings about most consumers' views and habits towards eye protection," said Spahr. "As a result, we're using this information to provide the products, tools and materials that will help people protect their eyes and their children's eyes from the sun as fiercely as they protect their skin."

"The survey findings suggest that more education and awareness about protective eyewear for sun exposure is essential, especially for children," said Pat Huot, director of Managed Vision Care for Transitions Optical, a provider of photochromics to optical manufacturers. "Long-term UV exposure has been linked to eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye diseases later in life, so it's important to make sure people are doing everything they can to maintain healthy eyes."

According to the Vision Council, a recent cost analysis shows that eye disease health care expenditures reach $16 billion each year, an amount that exceeds expenditures for breast cancer ($7.2 billion), lung cancer ($5.6 billion) and HIV ($9.4 billion).

The omnibus survey was conducted online among a national sample of 2,500 Americans ages 18+ (balanced to Census). Fielding took place in July 2010 by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.96% at the 95% confidence level, meaning if the study were replicated, the study findings would be within 1.96 percentage points 95 times out of 100.

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