I recently was invited to participate in a webinar, hosted by The Vision Council, titled The Health Benefits of Sunglasses. It was very informative.
The one thought I had while listening was how great a disconnect between our thoughts on UV Rays. We slather on sunscreen, yet most of us fail to shield our eyes from the sun. I admit, I don’t really think of eyewear when I think of UV protection. I know all about skin cancer and melanoma but never considered the harm UV rays can cause to eyes.
My dad is the biggest advocate of sunglasses. He always has been after me to get my sunglasses on. I never seem to make it out the door with them. When the webinar mentioned children I had to admit, I have bought my kiddos sunglasses thinking they were adorable, but never considered the protection they might offer. I know my kids’s eyes aren’t fully developed, but never even considered the compounded UV damage in their younger years could lead to cataracts as they grew into older adults. I’m diligent about sunscreen on them, but their eyes–I didn’t even blink about protecting them.
It turns out that by the time a child reaches the age of 18, they have received nearly 25 percent of their lifetime exposure to the eye. Children receive THREE times the annual dose of UV radiation.
Our eye care expert, Doctor Dora Adamopoulos, OD, recommended that all children (and adults) wear UV-protective eyewear (UVA & UVB) as often as possible. Wearing UV protection as much as possible may significantly reduce the risk of UV-related eye conditions. UV damage is cumulative, however, so even small periods of unprotected exposure can lead to long-term problems.
Actively engage in your child and your UV Protection by:
- Make sure the sunglasses fit your children comfortably. Sunglasses that pinch or are scratched are less likely to be worn
- Set a prime example by always wearing your own shades
- Style might play a role; have them pick out a pair they like, and they may be more prone to wear them
- Quality doesn’t necessarily translate to high cost
- If your children are particularly prone to losing items, consider buying shades with a plastic frame, which can be less expensive than metal frames
To know if sunglasses filter out UVA and UVB, first look for a sticker or label on the lens or frame that indicates protection. If you don’t see a sticker or have an older pair of sunglasses, you can bring them to an eye care professional who can test them using a UV meter.
Online auction sites, street vendors or second-hand stores should be avoided for purchasing sunglasses from, Dr. Adamopoulos advised.