Some in U.S. Frequently Face Very High or Extreme Risk of UV Exposure

Some in U.S. Frequently Face Very High or Extreme Risk of UV Exposure

Report by Vision Experts Highlights Importance of Protecting the Eyes from UV Damage

Alexandria, VA (May 18, 2011) - Without protective measures, residents' eyes and skin in some U.S. cities are at very high or extreme risk of exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation at least one day out of every four. Yet despite the danger, less than one in three Americans makes the link between UV rays and eye damage.

With the approach of summer - the season when UV levels peak across the United States - The Vision Council released a new report about the importance of protecting eyes and the skin that surrounds the eyes. Hidden Dangers of UV: Keeping Your Eyes Safe explains the factors that exacerbate exposure risks, highlights forecasts that show the intensity of solar UV in cities across the country and offers tips for preventing the vision problems that can be caused by UV exposure.

It's important for people to understand both how to shield their eyes from dangerous UV radiation and the UV intensity of the places they live, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. With this report, we want to help people recognize the dangers of UV radiation for their eyes and motivate them to protect themselves and their families.

The report notes that many of the 58 cities for which UV levels are indexed by the National Weather Service have very high or extreme UV radiation levels more than 20 percent of the year. And the list of UV-intensive cities includes entries that may come as a surprise, such as Wichita, Boise, and Norfolk.

From Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Oklahoma City, to Charleston, West Virginia, this type of UV intensity causes eyes real harm, including cancer, growths on the eyes and other serious conditions, said W. Lee Ball, Jr., O.D., Chairman of the Better Vision Institute, the medical advisory board to The Vision Council. Children are particularly vulnerable, because they tend to spend more time outside and because their eyes aren't able to filter UV rays as effectively as adults' eyes.

Wearing sunglasses or other eyewear that offer UV protection is the best way to shield the eyes from the sun. Hidden Dangers of UV: Keeping Your Eyes Safe details what consumers should consider when choosing a pair of shades. For instance:

  • Buy from a reputable retailer: Their products will meet frame and lens quality criteria set by the American National Standards Institute.
  • Look for UV protection: Sunglasses should filter UVA and UVB light.
  • Try the sunglasses on: Fit and feel make a difference because sunglasses that are uncomfortable are less likely to be worn.
  • Use multiple pairs: Different lenses and frames may be suited to various types of activities.
  • Understand lens color: The darkness of a lens has nothing to do with UV protection, although various lens colors can offer other benefits. For instance, yellow- and brown-tinted lenses are best for water sports; gray, brown and amber are great for field sports; and mirror coatings work well for downhill skiing and snowboarding.
  • Focus on design: For extra protection, wraparound glasses or glasses with larger temple pieces help block the sun from side angles.

The Vision Council has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SunWise Program, an environmental and health education effort to teach children and their caregivers how to protect themselves-and their vision-from overexposure to the sun. Hidden Dangers of UV: Keeping Your Eyes Safe is an important element of The Vision Council's ongoing commitment to help consumers stay safe in the sun.

Along with sunscreen, hats and their other UV-protective gear, we want people to remember to wear sunglasses whenever they're outside, said Greene.

To view or download a copy of Hidden Dangers of UV: Keeping Your Eyes Safe and a comprehensive list of sun-safe tips, please visit

For more information please contact Stephanie Sikorski at (703) 740-2248 or or Starla Stiles at (202) 745-5065 or

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.