Dr Tony Healy, consultant anaesthetist at St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) in Dublin, together with his nephew Michael Healy, has launched the world’s only website with a 24-hour read-out of the UV index in any city in the world.
It comes at a time when between 30 and 40 people per annum are literally losing an eye to cancer, Dr Healy said.
“We want to make people aware that if you are lying out, you should not only be putting some sunscreen solution on your skin, but you should be wearing sunglasses, and not just any old sunglasses but sunglasses manufactured to block out most of the UVA and UVB rays,” Dr Healy said.
Those who do suffer from eye cancer have the globe of the eye removed through surgery and are fitted with a radioactive isotope in the orbit of the eye which is left in for a couple of days to kill malignant cells, after which an artificial eye is fitted, Dr Healy said.
Dr Healy is hoping his website — www.uvawareness.com — will be used as a guide by the Irish in determining the safest time of the day to sit in the sun and what level of protection to wear.
The website has a UV Index scale ranging from 1 to 11+ that describes the level of solar UV radiation at the Earth’s surface at any given time and is an indicator of the potential for associated health risks. For example number 1 is low risk of exposure with no sun protection necessary, while 11 is extreme and people are advised to stay out of the sun or cover up substantially. Readings are available for cities around the globe making the website useful for the pale-skinned Irish traveller.
“It’s so simple that you can look it up at home. You might think it’s overcast and you might think there is no UVA or UVB coming through, but in actual fact you could be quite surprised even if the sun isn’t shining hard. And it helps if going on holidays — it makes you more aware that as Irish people on foreign holidays by the Mediterranean, we shouldn’t be going out in the midday sun when the index shows red hot,” Dr Healy said.
UV radiation can damage skin, eyes, and the immune system. Some damage is immediate, such as sunburn. Other damage builds up over time, like skin cancer and cataracts.