South African university student knowledge of eye protection against sunlight

17 Jun 2020

Exposure to sunlight has been associated with several ocular conditions such as cataract, age-re- lated macular degeneration, and conjunctival neo- plasm. 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 knowl- edge amongst randomly selected university students in South Africa, of prevention modalities against the adverse effects of sunlight. A questionnaire re- lating 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 ver- sion 10. The participants? ages ranged from 17 to 55 years (mean = 21.03 ? 3.4 years). They includ- ed 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 partici-pants knew that not all spectacles or contact lenses could protect eyes from ultraviolet radiation. How- ever, 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 pre- ventive modalities than the males. Knowledge of preventive modalities among the respondents var- ied 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 pos- sible adverse effects of sunlight on the eye and ap- propriate protective practices.