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Protecting Children’s Eyes From the Sun

No matter what season it is, skin isn’t the only thing that gets burned by sunlight. Eyes are just as sensitive, and children’s eyes are especially vulnerable.

“The crystalline lens in children’s and teenagers’ eyes is more transparent than in adults, which makes them more susceptible to cornea and retina damage from the sun,” says Corinne McCormack, spokesperson for The Vision Council and Fashion Director at FGX International, Inc. “Having your kids wear sunglasses while outdoors is actually as important as getting them to wear hats and sunscreen.”

The Vision Council just launched a Bureau of Missing Sunglasses initiative informing adults and children that “sunglasses are absolutely critical for keeping vision safe from UV damage,” as stated in their 2012 report.

So, what can you do to protect your young tike’s eyes?

“If you’re concerned your little guy or gal won’t wear sunglasses, look for designs you know they love — like bright patterns, fun shapes or sunglasses with their favorite cartoon or movie character,” adds McCormack. The following safety guidelines can also help:

Seek shade for mid-day sun. UV rays are most powerful from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., so avoid being in direct sunlight without access to shade, umbrellas or protective clothing.

Wear protective apparel. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are musts. Look for sunglasses with the ‘MaxBlock’ sticker, which indicates 100 percent UVA and UVB lens protection. The Foster Grant sunglass line (www.fostergrant.com) offers styles especially for kids as well as bands to keep them secure on small heads, and every pair has a MaxBlock seal.
Set a good example. Your children will learn many habits from you, so reapply sunscreen often, and always remember to wear your sunglasses. Remind kids to pack their sunglasses and hats for vacation, and reward them for reapplying sunscreen. Don’t forget, sunglasses protect your eyes all year round.

Failure to comply with eye safety may lead to long-term complications, including cataracts, retinal problems, macular degeneration, cancer and abnormal growths on the eye’s surface. Experts at the World Health Organization say ultraviolet (UV) damage is largely preventable. Encouraging good sun-exposure habits from childhood is a must.

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