Slide on your sunnies

Protect your eyes in sun-drenched Marlborough

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 07:14 23/10/2012
Bell Davenport
Well protected: Laura-Belle Davenport protects her eyes from the sun

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Sliding on a pair of sunglasses is just as important in Marlborough as the "slip, slop and slap" of sun protection, an eye specialist says.

Blenheim-based ophthalmologist Graeme French said wearing sunglasses in the sun-drenched region helped protect people from preventable diseases such as melanoma.

A cheap pair was better than none at all, he said.

Nationwide retailer OPSM today released an eye protection warning that revealed the sun safety message "slip, slop, slap and slide" was getting hazy when it came to eye protection.

The message was designed to remind people to "slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and slide on sunglasses".

The OPSM report said 83 per cent of Kiwis thought sunscreen was important on a sunny day, 60 per cent recognised the need for a hat, but only 24 per cent rated sunglasses as a priority.

Only 58 per cent of New Zealanders always wore sunglasses on a sunny day at the beach.

This dropped to 28 per cent when it was cloudy.

OPSM regional eye care manager Matthew Whiting said this suggested New Zealanders didn't understand the impact UV exposure could have on their eyes.

People were exposing themselves to potentially serious eye damage or vision loss, Mr Whiting said.

Dr French said primary school children in Marlborough were well educated on being sun smart.

"They get the idea that a hat protects your face and that sunglasses are an added benefit," Dr French said.

He wasn't sure how good the rest of Marlborough was in recognising the importance of eye protection because no-one had done a regional survey.

"The bulk of the benefit comes from just wearing sunglasses," he said.

"A cheap pair is better than nothing but, like everything, the more you pay, the better they will be."

Sunglasses also protected against skin cancers developing on sensitive skin around the eye, he said.

"People don't want to put sunscreen right up to their eyes, so glasses and a hat are good for that."

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- The Marlborough Express

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