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Survey Shows Americans Are Active Outdoors But Not Protecting Their Eyes

LAKE FOREST, Calif., May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With the arrival of warmer weather, more Americans are taking part in their favorite outdoor sports and activities, but many are overlooking a simple safety and health precaution -- protecting their eyes with sunglasses.

According to a 2011 national survey conducted by N3L Optics®, only 66 percent of adults wear sunglasses consistently when they are outdoors, and only half of those age 18-24 do so.

The survey also found that one in five American adults has experienced an eye injury while participating in outdoor sports and activities. The injury rate is higher for men (1 in 3) and those age 25-34 (1 in 4). Consistent sunglass use was least in the southeast where the eye injury rate was the highest (1 in 3).

"Your eyes are a critical component of your well-being and need to be protected with the same level of vigilance as your skin," said Kendra Reichenau, senior vice president of N3L Optics.  

Eighty percent of people surveyed reported worrying about their eye health, but nearly one in four do not know that sun exposure can cause eye damage. The sun's harmful UV radiation can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and some cancers, nearly all of which are preventable with proper use of sunglasses. According to the American Optometric Association, UV radiation is a risk, even on overcast days.

Outdoor Activities

Although consistent sunglass use may be low, participation in outdoor activities is high. Survey respondents considered themselves to be active, and 81 percent said walking for fitness is their primary outdoor activity followed by water sports (49%), running (47%), outdoor sports (42%) and hiking and climbing (42%).

Men are more likely to purchase sunglasses for a specific sport and spend more on their sunglasses than women do. Fifty four percent of those who spent more than $100 on their sunglass purchase were men.

Use of Sunglasses

While the N3L Optics survey found that only 66 percent of adults wear sunglasses consistently when they are outdoors, 72 percent of walkers consistently protect their eyes with sunglasses. However, only 19 percent of golfers, 28 percent of runners and 29 percent of cyclists do.

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