Surf Life Savers keep an eye on more than beaches this season and encourage South Australians to be sun smart

Surf Life Saving South Australia’s season has officially launched and this year, clubs are leading by example and calling on South Australians to take sun protection more seriously – especially when it comes to looking after eye health.

Ahead of peak season, State Life Saving Operations Manager Ben Laurenson and State Life Saving Officer Sonya Williamson will pay a visit to their local optometrist to have an eye health check to ensure they are taking the right measures to care for their eyes in the sun and are encouraging South Australians to do the same.

“We heavily rely on our vision when we are on patrol. It’s so important that we are focused and aware of our peripheral vision. Identifying a potential risk in the water before it becomes a hazard can sometimes be the difference between a person being in a life-threatening situation or not.” Ben says.

“I’ve been a life saver for 10 years and so I’ve seen my fair share of summers. I’m looking forward to finding out if those years in the sun have affected my eyes and learn about my best protection options.” Sonya adds.

By now, most people know about the damage UV rays can cause to the skin however, many are unaware of the severe effects on the delicate eye area as well. Research shows that over half or 52% of Australia’s population don’t protect their eyes when they’re in the sun, so it’s clear that further education needs to be done1.

Specsavers Norwood Optometrist Jun Suk is passionate about educating his patients in eye health and sun protection.

“I find that many patients are unaware that UV can be harmful on their eyes. The UV radiation that contributes to sunburns, tans and skin cancer is also one of the risk factors for cataracts and has also been linked to macular degeneration. It can also cause skin cancer around the eyelids and has also been linked to the development of growths that can harm the cornea and cause distorted vision.”

“To prevent UV radiation from damaging your eyes, it’s best to combine a number of strategies. Sunglasses with a high level of protection against rays are essential, as is a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade for your face. Everyone is at risk for eye damage without the proper precautions, so you should wear sunglasses even on cloudy days. Polarised lenses also help reduce the glare reflecting off other surfaces, and you can opt for prescription sunglasses if you need vision correction as well.” Jun adds.

Up until November 2, Specsavers is offering free polarised lenses in your second pair when you choose two styles from the $199 range or above including single vision lenses. South Australian Specsavers stores are fundraising for Surf Life Saving South Australia during this time and will be donating a portion of every pair of polarised sunglasses sold to the charity.

To find out more about Surf Life Saving South Australia visit:

To find your closest Specsavers store and book in an eye test, visit:



Key Facts

·        Only 1 in 10 Australians remember to take sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat every time they spend time in the sun.

·        37% of Australians are more likely to look for a dark tint rather than a label confirming the UV protection ordered.

·        52% of Australia’s population don’t protect their eyes when they’re in the sun.

·        UV damage to the eye and eyelid can cause serious eye conditions. To keep your eyes safe in the sun, wear lenses that block UV rays.

·        Each year Australians are 4 times more likely to develop skin cancer than any other form of cancer.

·        Although the eyelid is designed to protect the eye, the skin is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can be damaged by UV light.


1The study was conducted by Galaxy Research in November 2015 among a nationally representative sample of 1,012 Australians aged 18 and older. The research was commissioned by Specsavers.