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fish 'n' tip - protecting anglers eyes against uv damage with rob paxevanos
Rob Paxevanos
Dated: 23 October, 2002
Spend decades looking for the largest freshwater fish on fly? Make sure your eyes are protected. (pic by Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z).
This week regular contributor Simon Kaminskas has an extremely important message:

"Today we are looking at a health and safety issue that's important to all anglers in this country - protecting your eyes against UV (ultra-violet light) damage.

The story starts over a decade ago, when I was a keen 13 year old starting to fish with lures. I would ride my BMX bike down to the lake whenever I could, and during the summer holidays I would fish all day every day in the harsh bright summer sun staring into the glare-filled surface of the water watching my lures come back in.

Of course, the messages about protecting yourself from the sun were already around then, especially the well known "slip, slop, slap" message. And I did "slip, slop, slap", but no-one said anything about protecting your eyes! Of course, they do now - they get little kids to wear sun glasses at school and the message has become "slip, slop, slap and wrap", meaning that you wrap a pair of sunnies around your face.

The issue came up for me a couple of years ago when my eyes sometimes got a bloodshot look about them for very little reason. A quick trip to an ophthalmologist or an "eye-doctor" uncovered the reason why - mild UV damage. This had caused more blood vessels than normal to develop on the surface of the whites of my eye. So when I was tired or something was bugging my eyes these blood vessels would swell and become really noticeable, giving me the bloodshot look. The mild UV damage is almost definitely from all the years of fishing I did as a teenager in the bright sun, without sunglasses.

I was very lucky as bloodshot eyes are only a very mild symptom of UV damage. UV damage can be far more serious than that. What saved me from more serious problems is the fact that I started wearing polaroid glasses while fishing when I was about 18. I didn't start wearing them to protect my eyes, but simply so I could see more fish! But because they were very good glasses, they protected my eyes from further UV damage, so today the UV damage to my eyes remains only mild.

We now know that strong sunlight and the UV in it can damage your eyes, and that you have to protect your eyes from it. This is especially important for keen young kids who are just starting to fish seriously.

Protecting your eyes from UV damage is really easy. All you need to do is buy a good quality pair of sunglasses and wear them! Both Rob and I wear specialised mako fishing glasses that start at about 0. Obviously these have additional benefits for the angler but for UV protection alone there are cheaper brands around (eg ones made for the Cancer Council of Australia) that have built-in UV protection.

All sunnies on sale should have a tag dangling off them saying "Australian Standard Approved", and "UV protection". If not don't buy them!

Finally, proper sunglasses protect your eyes while flies or lures are whistling around everywhere. You'd be mad not to wear them, so if you're not go out and get a pair today!"

Thanks Simon I agree.

At 5:30 pm this Saturday (26th October) on WIN TV's country wide "Fishing Australia" program we score the biggest freshwater fish ever recorded on fly, a massive Murray Cod over 50 pounds. Thanks to a special polariser on the camera we also clearly recorded the fish attempts to eat a 6 pound perch and a turtle. This is truly never seen before footage that may take another decade to top so pencil in 5:30 pm Saturday.

Until next time, see you on the water.
Rob Paxevanos

Editors NB: For Newcastle and surrounding regions, the NBN network also screens Fishing Australia around 5pm this Saturday. Check the T.V guide for details.
Rob Paxevanos Fishnet Pro Angler

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