Media releases

January 13, 2016


Australians urged to think beyond just their skin this summer when it comes to UV exposure to protect their long-term eye health

Medibank is encouraging Aussies to wear sunglasses whenever they’re outdoors this summer, to protect themselves from potential eye-damage or eyelid cancer.

While many Australians believe UV rays are only harmful during the midday sun[1], research suggests that UV exposure to the eye before 10am and after 2pm may sometimes be higher than during the middle of the day.[2]

Medibank’s Medical Director Dr Kevin Cheng says it’s more important than ever for Australians to make a conscious effort to protect their eyes.

“Aussies love spending time outdoors, especially during summer, but we need to be vigilant of the ultraviolet radiation that comes with the sun – not only by putting on sunscreen, but by wearing sunglasses too.

“A lot of people don’t think about the importance of protecting their eyes, but we only have one pair. That’s why it’s so important to be sun smart and protect our peepers,” Dr Cheng said.

Ultraviolet radiation is invisible to the human eye and can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium – an unsightly, noncancerous growth on the surface of the eye that can impair vision – and eye cancers.

Dr Cheng’s top tips on UV protection and how to avoid damage to your eyes are:

  • Know what you’re buying – Categories of sunglasses are rated from 0 to 4, from minimal to high level protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR). A category 2 or 3 is the ideal safeguard for everyday purposes. For additional protection, especially for those who work outdoors, a category 4 is the best option.
  • Upgrade your shades – Wear a pair of sunglasses that wrap around and cover not only the front of your eyes but the sides. In addition, the darker and larger they are, the more protection your eyes will have which will lower the chance of risk.
  • Switch to contacts – For extra precaution, contact lenses can be used. Most contact lenses already provide UVR protection for those who wear prescriptions.
  • They’re not just for adults, Kids need sunnies tooThe majority of our lifetime exposure to UVR is received before we reach 18, which has been proven to increase a person’s risk of eye damage later in life.
  • Think beyond just the frames – Hats can be used in addition to sunglasses can help to decrease the amount of UV exposure to the eyes.

“Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement – they’re the first line of defence against the damaging effects of UV on our eyes,” Dr Cheng said.

Medibank offers 100 per cent back on recognised optical items up to annual limits and all recognised providers. This includes frames, prescription lenses and repairs. Plus discounts on sunglasses.

“Using your optical benefit as part of your health cover is a very simple and cost effect way to upgrade your prescription sunnies,” Dr Cheng added.

Medibank currently has a 15 per cent discount for Eye Institute members of OPSM and Specsavers. For more information on Medibank’s extras INCLUDING optical cover visit




[1] Optometry Association Australia, 2012, “UV dangers for eyes widely misunderstood”

[2] World Health Organisation, 2002, “Global Solar UV Index: A practical guide”


About Medibank:

Medibank is Australia’s leading private health insurer, providing private health insurance to approximately 3.9 million people through its Medibank and ahm brands. Customers can access Medibank’s products and services through more than 80 retail stores, as well as digital and telephone platforms. Medibank also provides a range of complementary healthcare services including healthcare management services for government and corporate clients, online and telephone-based health services and the distribution of travel, life and pet insurance. 

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