Less than a quarter of patients are aware of the risks of ultraviolet radiation to their eye health according to research carried out by Optician among eye care professionals.
The study, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, also highlighted areas of weakness in optical professionals' understanding of the risks posed by sunlight and communication and record-keeping on the topic.
Questionnaires completed by 400 Optician readers last month revealed the poor levels of understanding patients have about UV risk. A third of practitioners thought under 10 per cent of their patients understood the role UV played in eye damage. An even greater number (36 per cent) said between 11 and 25 per cent of their patients understood the danger. A tiny 2 per cent of respondents said most of their patients (76 to 100 per cent) recognised the dangers of UV.
When asked about the risks to those in their care, most ECPs saw UV as a threat for all patients (74 per cent) or just in high risk groups (23 per cent).
When asked which groups were most at risk, 45 per cent said risk was equal among all groups and just 36 per cent singled out children as a high risk group.
The time of year at which the sun was at its most damaging also highlighted differences of opinion, with 41 per cent saying the summer and 46 per cent saying the risk was equal all year round. Most (51 per cent) thought midday was the riskiest time to be in the sun, followed by early afternoon (26 per cent). Mid morning, late afternoon and the same risk all day all scored around 17 per cent.
When asked, 82 per cent said routine exposure to UV was a danger to eye health and 78 per cent said the primary duty of care to discuss UV and the eye rested with optometrists. However, this is not reflected in the number of patients spoken to about UV protection. On average ECPs had discussed UV protection with 4.6 of their last 10 patients. Just 17 per cent said history and symptoms about UV exposure were taken routinely and in assessing exposure 97 per cent used verbal means and just 3 per cent some form of instrumentation.
● Full findings of the survey will appear in an Optician supplement later this month.