Most parents think about putting sunscreen on their children to protect them from the sun, but never consider sunglasses, which are equally important. ChildrenÔÇÖs eyes are very vulnerable to the sun because their ocular lenses have not yet matured and cannot filter UV light as effectively as adultÔÇÖs eyes. The average child takes in approximately three times the annual UV exposure of the average adult.
Years of overexposure can cause damage to the retina, lead to cancer of the eye, and has been linked to increased risk later in life for cataracts (a clouding of the eye) and macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in adults).
Parents cannot always enforce the use of sunglasses, especially when children are participating in outdoor sports or activities. Most would prefer their kids are outside rather than watching TV, but there are specific instances where parents should strongly encourage sunglasses use. This includes when children are going to be near the water, sand beach or snow. The beach poses the highest risk as sand and water both reflect UV light. In the winter, the snow can reflect up to 85% of UV rays. Both cases can cause serious damage to the eyes.
It may be hard to put sunglasses on an infant or toddler, but more options are available today than they were even a few years ago. Parent should keep the following in mind when buying sunglasses:
ÔÇó Look for glasses with straps. They wrap around the childÔÇÖs head and help protect their eyes from the sand and wind
ÔÇó Buy sunglasses that block close to 100% of the UV spectrum, including UVA and UVB
ÔÇó Find sunglasses that match the childÔÇÖs lifestyle. Most kids run, bounce and fall, and donÔÇÖt usually take special care of their things. Impact resistant and scratch-proof lenses that donÔÇÖt easily pop out of their frames are best
ÔÇó Let the child choose. Kids are much more likely to wear things they like, so let them select their favorite frames that fit the criteria above
Once purchased, check the sunglasses regularly to see if they are damaged. This will ensure they are actually working and no rays are entering through scratches or other flaws. Lastly, teach your child about the important of using their sunglasses. Developing healthy habits early will ensure they are good for life!
If you have any additional questions on protecting your childÔÇÖs eyes from the sun, please contact Compton Eye Associates.