Observations of more than 5,000 island residents show that only twelve percent of children in Hawaiʻi wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, which may leave them at increased risk for cataracts later in life.
The research project, conducted by the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, also shows that only one third of residents overall use sunglasses.
“Public health prevention programs promoting sunglass use, especially by children, are needed to reduce the incidence of cataracts,” said Jay Maddock, Ph.D, Department Chair and lead author of the findings published in February 2009′s Optometry and Vision Science.
More than 20 million Americans over 40 have cataracts in at least one eye, and that number is expected to top 30 million within eleven years (2020). Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, which grow very slowly and eventually can become dense enough to compromise vision. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness, although they are treatable with surgery. Wearing sunglasses, especially early in life, may reduce the risk of cataracts.