4 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Eyes Protected from the Sun
The tiny-sized, colorful swimsuits lining the store shelves this time of year are enough to get any parent excited to take their little bundle of joy to the beach or pool this summer. But it’s best to take precaution before letting your little one soak in the sun. Ultraviolet light from the sun can have serious effects on everyone’s skin and eyes no matter how old you are; but it’s important to know that your child’s eyes are even more susceptible to damage from UV radiation. In fact, 80% of all UV exposure occurs before the age of 18.
UV light has been associated with several eye issues including cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. Children are more at risk for retinal damage from UV rays because their pupils are larger and the lens inside the eye is clearer, which enables more absorption of UV radiation into the eye.
This is why it’s important to keep your child’s eyes protected when spending time outdoors. Younger children, those under six months of age, should stay even more shielded from the sun as their skin is not yet protected by melanin and their eyes are especially fragile.
One easy way to keep your little ones protected outside is to avoid the sun’s peak hours. Try to limit the amount of time spent outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when UV light is most intense. And remember that UV radiation is still abundant when it’s cloudy, so stay protected on overcast days too.
When you’re having fun in the sun, keep yourself and your children covered up with clothes, a broad-brimmed hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses with UV protection. But choose wisely when it comes to sunglasses by following these tips:
- Look for sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays – Your child should wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of UV light, and be cautious of low-quality lenses. Sunglasses that are poor quality can do more harm than good by causing your child’s pupils to dilate and let in more UVA and UVB rays. Ask your eye doctor for a recommendation on the best sunglasses for your child.
- Go with a medium tint – While the color of the lens doesn’t affect the level of UV protection – which is chemically applied to the lens – the tint can make a difference. Lighter lenses don’t offer much comfort in the sun, and lenses that are too dark could make your child’s pupils expand to allow more UV light in their eyes. It’s best to go with a medium tint, but more importantly make sure the lenses block UV light.
- Choose sunglasses with an elastic band – To help prevent loss or damage to your child’s sunglasses, consider frames that come with an elastic band attached to the end of each of the earpieces. However, be aware that the use of a band or cord might pose a choking risk for an unattended infant or toddler.
- Purchase impact-resistance lenses with flexible frames – Polycarbonate lenses are up to 10 times more impact-resistant than standard plastic lenses which is helpful for active children who play sports or other outdoor activities. Sunglasses with flexible frames are less likely to break and lead to potential eye or facial injury than a frame that snaps upon impact.