Almost three-quarters of parents do not protect their child’s eyes from harmful UV rays, a survey has found as the UK heatwave sizzles on.
Sun worshippers basked in the hottest temperature of the year so far on Monday, with a scorching 33.3C recorded in England, and forecasters predict the mercury could soar above 34C by the end of the week.
The recordbreaking heat comes as people are being urged to stay out of the sun or at least avoid being in the sun between 11am and 3pm.
The 33.3C high was recorded at Santon Downham in Suffolk, but it is set to get even hotter, with temperatures expected to peak on Thursday and Friday.
The Met Office has partnered with Boots Opticians to raise awareness of the dangers of UV rays on eyes and the need for eye protection, particularly among children.
Their survey found that 31% of people believe eyeballs cannot get sunburnt, with 78% unconcerned about its effect on their eyes.
Just half of people were aware that eye damage caused by UV rays can be irreversible, while 43% said they have sunglasses that offer UV protection.
Children’s eyes do not fully develop and provide natural lens protection until the age of 12 and they are likely to spend much more time outside during school holidays than their parents.
Despite this, only 30% of parents said they worry about their children having too much exposure to UV and how it could lead to long term damage.
Only a third (32%) said they prioritise packing sunglasses for a day out with their children, with a further third having no idea if their children’s sunglasses offer UV protection.
Four in 10 said they do not check UV levels before going outside, with almost three-quarters (74%) believing there is no way to do this.
Clare Nasir, Met Office meteorologist, said: “Levels of UV have been high for many weeks but it’s concerning to find out that many parents don’t realise how harmful UV can be to their child’s eyes.
“Protecting against skin cancer is also something that parents leave to chance so why should eyes be different? This can be avoided by checking our hourly UV forecast on our app.”
The online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2,004 UK adults – 1,002 of whom are parents to children aged 16 and under.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said Tuesday is likely to see temperatures in the low 30s again, with the week getting hotter from Wednesday with 33C likely, while Thursday and Friday could see 34C.
Mr Burkill said temperatures above 34C “can’t be ruled out”.
The hottest July day on record is 36.7C (98F), which was reached at Heathrow on July 1 2015.
An amber “heat health watch” warning has been issued for parts of England.
The amber, or level three, warning is issued when temperatures are predicted to hit 30C (86F) during the day, and 15C (59F) at night, for at least two consecutive days.
There is a 90% possibility of heatwave conditions between 9am on Monday and 9am Friday in parts of England, mainly in the south and east.
The Met Office said several places have had 54 consecutive dry days, starting May 30, including a few which have had less than 1mm of rain in the entire 54-day period – the longest spell since 1969, when 70 days passed with no significant rainfall.
A spokesman said: “It’s the driest first half of the summer since 1961.
“For the UK as a whole, we’ve only seen about 20% of the rainfall we’d normally expect throughout the whole summer. Parts of southern England have seen only 6%.”
UK temperatures have been approximately 10C higher than average for this time of year.