Study ranks SLC in top 20 for UV risk

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SALT LAKE CITY—A recent study published by The Vision Council lists Salt Lake City in the top 20 cities in the nation for UV risk.

Optician Joy Gibb said people should be warned of the dangers of UV radiation so they can take precautions.

"We are smack dab in the middle of that UV danger zone, meaning that we have a great deal of UV exposure and UV danger that we are submitting ourselves to and our children to on a daily basis,” Gibb said.

The Vision Council’s report found that 40 percent of adults don’t wear sunglasses outside, even though doing so can reduce the risk for eyesight problems.

"What a lot of people don’t realize is the eye is the one organ that can sustain internal damage from UV exposure and that can lead to things like cataracts,” she said. “If you have a predisposition genetically in your family for macular degeneration it can cause that to happen more quickly."

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults 60 years old or older. Gibb said it’s important to educate people at an early age about the ways they can protect themselves from UV rays.

"Children are far more susceptible to UV damage than their adult counterparts,” Gibb said. "Typically before the age of 14 kids have really seen a lot of sun.  If you think about the time we spend in the park and on the playgrounds—those are really the times that we should be thinking about UV, protecting our children in their eyewear or in good sunglasses."

Opticians said UV damage is cumulative, which means it happens over an extended period of time. That means even small periods of exposure can lead to problems. Gibb said parents can set an example for their children regarding the dangers of UV.

"It should be as automatic as putting sunscreen on your child before they go to the park, you should be putting sunglasses on yourself and your children before you go to the park as well,” Gibb said.