Call to protect eyes from the sun


UV RAYS:A DOCTOR has warned the public to be aware they need to protect their eyes as well as their skin in the sun if they are to avoid getting a cancer that could cost them their sight.

Dr Tony Healy, an anaesthetist at Dublin’s St Vincent’s Hospital and formerly of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, said between 30 and 40 people a year are having an eye removed as a result of melanoma of the eye.

He said people were aware they should wear sun screen on their skin to avoid skin cancer but not as aware they should also wear sunglasses to protect their eyes. Any sunglasses would not do, he stressed. They had to be ones blocking UV rays.

Dr Healy was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation in Killarney, where a website set up by him and his nephew, offering instant information on the level of UV rays forecast in any location worldwide, went live.

The website also provides information on the level of sun protection required when UVA rays are low, moderate, high or very high, as well as when it is advisable to stay out of the sun altogether.

Even when it’s overcast, there could be quite a lot of UVA and UVB rays coming through, he said.

The website advises that if the UV index is low, generally no protection is needed. But if its moderate, sunglasses, a hat, and a factor 15 sunscreen should be applied.

If there is a high risk of UV exposure, sunglasses, a hat, and a factor 30 sunscreen, as well as UV protective clothing, are recommended.

“It’s the only website in the world that does a 24-hour readout of the UV index in any city in the world,” Dr Healy said.