Original Research

South African university student knowledge of eye protection against sunlight

O. A. Oduntan, A. Carelson, P. Clarke-Farr, R. Hansraj
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 68, No 1 | a149 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v68i1.149 | © 2009 O. A. Oduntan, A. Carelson, P. Clarke-Farr, R. Hansraj | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 December 2009 | Published: 13 December 2009

About the author(s)

O. A. Oduntan, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, University of KwaZulu Natal
A. Carelson, Department of Optometry, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
P. Clarke-Farr, Department of Ophthalmic Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, South Africa
R. Hansraj, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

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Abstract

Exposure to sunlight has been associated with several ocular conditions such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and conjunctival neoplasm. Knowledge of protective modalities and
good behavioural practice involving eye protection is essential to prevent adverse effects of sunlight. The purpose of this study was to establish knowledge amongst randomly selected university students in South Africa, of prevention modalities against the adverse effects of sunlight. A questionnaire relating to the knowledge of preventive modalities was completed by randomly selected students from four universities selected by convenience sampling.  Questionnaires completed by one thousand, eight

hundred and thirty two (N =1832) subjects were analysed with descriptive statistics using Stata version 10.  The participants’ ages ranged from 17 to 55 years (mean = 21.03 ± 3.4 years).  They included 43.7% males and 56.3% females.  They were 68.3% Blacks, 20.0% Whites, 3.4% Indians and 7.4% Coloureds. Many (82.3%) of them knew that excessive exposure to sunlight can adversely affect the eyes. Only 28.5% reported that they often wore sunglasses outdoors. Only 38.5% of the participants knew that not all spectacles or contact lenses could protect eyes from ultraviolet radiation. However, many, 87.7% and 69.5% respectively knew that sunglasses and spectacles could be specifically designed to block UVR from entering the eye. Just over half (52.7%) knew that contact lenses can be specifically designed to block the UVR. Many, (68.4%) agreed that wearing hats with brims could protect the eyes against harmful radiation from the sun and the majority, 95.8% agreed that there was a need for awareness campaigns about the effects of the sun on the eye and against excessive exposure. Female respondents had more knowledge of preventive modalities than the males.  Knowledge of preventive modalities among the respondents varied significantly with the type of questions and was poor for certain questions. This suggests a need for an eye protection awareness campaign amongst the general population in South Africa, about the possible adverse effects of sunlight on the eye and appropriate protective practices.


Keywords

Sunlight adverse effects; ultraviolet radiation; sunglasses; tinted lenses; tinted contact lenses

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