SUN DAMAGE: Why the sight of thousands on Coast is at risk

WEARING sunnies isn't just for looks.

That is what one Hervey Bay optometrist wants people to remember.

New research has revealed that six out of 10 Aussies aren't aware that the sun can permanently damage their eyes, causing cataracts and cancer.

That is the equivalent to 31,821 people in Hervey Bay.

While almost all Aussies are concerned about long term damage to their body, the eyes tend to be forgotten with just 37 per cent of Australians concerned about the long-term damage to their eyes from the effects of the sun.

Specsavers Hervey Bay Central optometrist Sarel Van Der Westhuizen said it was important that Hervey Bay residents were educated on both the potential long‐term damage and what they could do to prevent it.

"The reality is that living in Australia means that we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation when we're outside, even when it's not bright and sunny," she said.

"While our eyelids are designed to protect our eyes, the skin around our eyes is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can easily be damaged by UV light.

"UV damage to the eye and eyelid can cause serious conditions such as eyelid skin cancers, intra-ocular melanoma, conjunctival cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration and more.

The research also found that almost half of Queensland residents admitted to not wearing sunglasses most of the time when they were outside.

Sarel Van Der Westhuizen's top tips for preventing sun damage of the eyes included:

1. Applying sunscreen on your eyelids and around your eyes

2. Wearing a broadbrimmed hat

3. Being mindful of the amount of time you spend in the sun

4. Understanding your family history

5. Getting your eyes tested regularly



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