Many Have A "Blind Spot" Regarding Eye Health   

(NAPSI)-According to a recent survey, Americans remain largely unaware of the dangers that extended exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can have on their eyes. The survey, conducted by the New England Eye Institute and Transitions Optical, found that while nearly 80 percent of consumers are aware that UV exposure can cause skin cancer, only five percent know it can harm the eyes.

Risking Our Sight Each Day. Every single day--whether sunny or cloudy, and despite the time of the year--eyes are exposed to UV radiation from the sun. The survey found that more than half (57 percent) of respondents said they do not wear protective eyewear when in the sun for extended periods of time. With Americans spending an average of 3.5 hours per day outdoors, this is a significant amount of time for UV damage to occur each day--amounting to a potential of more than 1,000 hours of UV damage to their eyes each year.

According to the World Health Organization, some 3.2 million people worldwide are blind as a result of cataracts, which have been linked to UV exposure. "The risk that we place on our precious sight by not protecting our eyes is alarming," says Barry Barresi, O.D., Ph.D., president, New England Eye Institute. "Unless Americans recognize the threat that UV poses and take action to protect their eyes--eye health issues, including cataracts, macular degeneration and cases of preventable blindness, will continue to skyrocket."

Dr. Barresi offers a few tips about how you can protect your family's vision year-round. Healthy Vision Tips:

• Remember proper eyewear: Certain lenses can safely block UV rays and help protect the eyes. Dark sunglasses without UVA and UVB protection cause the pupils to dilate and allow harmful UV rays into the eye, potentially causing major eye damage.

• Consider photochromic lenses: Photochromic lenses automatically adjust from clear indoors to as dark as sunglasses outdoors in the presence of UV rays. They are the smart everyday lens choice as they block 100 percent of UVA/UVB rays and reduce painful, uncomfortable glare.

• Schedule regular eye exams for overall health: Even though your vision may be clear, exams can detect changes in the eye caused by underlying health problems. Some eye diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, so make yearly eye exams part of your family's regular health routine.

For more tips about how to protect your eyes today and preserve your sight tomorrow, visit

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