Dr. Edgar Medina, MD, MPH, knows firsthand the important role that protective sunglasses play in supporting healthy eyes worldwide, and that is why he is working passionately to ensure that more people have access to the protection and prevention that sunglasses provide.
As Executive Director of MSH Peru, Dr. Medina implements projects serving vulnerable and impoverished populations in Peru. This country has one of the highest UV indexes in the world, reaching 20 points, which is the highest rate in the world in terms of solar radiation indexes.
“There is a lack of information and awareness in Peru of the damage caused by exposure to UV radiation, and while many people have sunglasses, many pairs typically do not have the filter needed to protect from exposure to the UV index,” Dr. Medina said. “Because of that lack of information and awareness, and the fact that Peru has the highest amount of exposure to solar radiation in the world, we find it is important to create a prevention culture among the vulnerable populations of Peru about protective sunglasses, and also we need to create awareness in the sense that sunglasses are not just a fashion product but a means to protect eye health.”
As National Sunglasses Day approaches on June 27, RestoringVision is raising awareness and taking action locally and globally, providing support where it’s needed most by providing protective sunglasses where the UV index is high and access is very limited. Together, MSH Peru and RestoringVision lead the Solar Radiation Prevention Program, PPDRS. The program aims to raise awareness about the risks of exposure to solar radiation by promoting a culture of protection, including the delivery of “Solidarity Kits” that will consist of sunglasses with UV protection, sunscreen, and a hat in support of the public policy issued by the Health Ministry of Peru and oriented to protect against the harmful effects of solar radiation in Peru.
A government mandate in Peru establishes preventive measures against harmful health effects due to prolonged exposure to solar radiation; RestoringVision and MSH Peru have partnered to provide the most vulnerable populations with the information and the tools they need to protect themselves.
Sunglasses with UV protection are not only essential to preserve the health of the eyes, but these are also important to prevent and reduce the risks of suffering from other vision problems that result from exposure to solar radiation such as cataracts, pterygium, photo conjunctivitis, and photokeratitis.
“Through the work of prevention and promoting awareness of the damage caused by solar radiation, we will reduce the expenses of health care by preventing ocular health issues created by the highest UV index,” Dr. Medina said. “It is well known that Peru has a few ophthalmologists, and most of them are located in the urban areas and the regions’ capitals. And by implementing this program we will contribute to the public health improvement through a risk reduction in ocular health.”
In 2021, RestoringVision provided 311,483 adults living in poverty with protective sunglasses to safeguard their vision against harmful UV rays and 47,565 children with sunglasses to protect their young eyes. This work resulted in a grand total of 359,048 people who now have access to the protective sunglasses they need, as they live in remote regions around the world with some of the highest UV indexes. Sunglasses effectively protect the eyes from harmful UVA/UVB rays that can cause cataracts and thus serve as an effective tool for maintaining healthy, clear vision.
MSH-Peru was founded in 2014 as a Management Sciences for Health, Inc. subsidiary committed to improving public health and developing the poorest and most vulnerable population in Peru.