For Millions of Americans, Missing Sunglasses Means Harmful Exposure to UV

For Millions of Americans, Missing Sunglasses Means Harmful Exposure to UV

New Report by The Vision Council Examines Eye Health Risks of UV Damage

Alexandria, VA (May 15, 2012) - More than 55 percent of adults in the United States lose or break their sunglasses every year, according to a new consumer media report by The Vision Council. For these and the 27 percent of adults who do not ever wear sunglasses, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation could end up costing them a lot more than a new pair of shades. The report, Finding Your Shades, Protecting Your Vision, outlines trends in UV-protective behaviors like sunglass use, as well as the major health effects that can occur as a result of cumulative UV exposure, and the protective measures necessary to prevent them. Copies of the report will be issued to consumer health and lifestyle reporters nationwide on May 17, 2012, in an effort to increase public understanding of UV radiation and its harmful effects on vision health.

UV radiation remains a constant threat to eye health, yet few understand the risk and consequences of cumulative UV exposure. A recent VisionWatch survey conducted by The Vision Council found that 20 percent of people do not feel that their eyes are at risk for sun exposure and 11 percent do not believe that unprotected exposure to UV rays causes health problems. The survey also found that many Americans are not protecting their eyes - or their children's eyes - with proper use of sunglasses. While 73 percent use sunglasses to shield their eyes from the sun, only 58 percent make their children practice the same preventive behavior.

There is still a huge gap in public knowledge on the danger of UV radiation, especially as it relates to the eyes, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. This media report aims to help raise awareness of UV harm and equip people with the tools and information needed to adequately protect their eyes against UV exposure.

On May 11, The Vision Council hosted a briefing - Sunglasses, UV Protection and What You Need to Know to Protect Your Vision - for congressional staffers on Capitol Hill. In line with the report's findings, Justin Bazan, OD, owner of Park Slope Eye, discussed the dangerous effects UV rays can have on the eyes and the importance of vision protection, while Doug Hepper, president and CEO of Vision-Ease Lens and David Vander Schaaf, executive vice president of marketing for FGX International, presented lens and sunwear options by lifestyle and face shape respectively. The Vision Council will also be holding a media telebriefing and releasing a 60-second audio news release on May 17, timed to the launch of the report.

The report, however, is just one component of The Vision Council's refreshed UV protection campaign, Bureau of Missing Sunglasses, designed to increase eye protection purchases by promoting the importance of year-round UV protection to consumers. Mobile and online tools have also been developed to remind the public to keep their eyes shielded from the sun. PackLists, a free smartphone app, generates a customizable packing list for business trips and vacations while highlighting the UV rating for each destination. A UV indicator widget can be placed on any website or blog to make for easy checking, no matter what a person's location. Also in the works is a Facebook poster maker app. The public can create their very own ‘missing' or ‘wanted' poster with a photo of their ‘can't-live-without-‘em' shades. These online tools, and others, are available on the new campaign website, missingsunglasses.com.

Beginning next week, The Vision Council will be bringing the UV awareness message to cities nationwide through its official Bureau of Missing Sunglasses street teams. Agents will be visiting more than 10 cities across the U.S. from May through October, with the first event planned around Don't Fry Day, the Friday before Memorial Day, May 24-26, in New York City. Street teams will hand out educational materials about the dangers of UV exposure and shopping tips for sunwear and other UV-protective prescription eyewear selection.

The Vision Council has also developed free educational materials, including a UV-focused poster, children's activity booklet, and waiting room/community magazine, Under the Sun, to help eye care professionals inform their patients about the importance of vision protection year-round. These complimentary marketing materials are available through The Vision Council's online store at thevisioncouncil.org/ecp.

To learn more about The Vision Council's UV protection campaign, or to download a copy of the Finding Your Shades, Protecting Your Vision report, visit the Bureau of Missing Sunglasses at missingsunglasses.com.

About The Vision Council

Serving as the global voice for vision care products and services, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry through education, advocacy and consumer outreach. By sharing the latest in eyewear trends, advances in technology and advice from eyewear experts, The Vision Council serves as a resource to the public looking to learn more about options in eyeglasses and sunglasses. If you or someone you know has missing or damaged sunglasses, report the incident online by using the #BOMS tag, like us on Facebook and check out our tools you can use to keep track of your shades and keep your eyes safe.