School’s out for summer! And hopefully a long summer of fun times and sunny days lies ahead. As parents, most of us remember to put sunscreen and sun hats on our children. But how many of us remember that sunglasses are just as important for protecting against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Just as children’s skin is more sensitive to the sun than adults, their eyes are also more susceptible to damage. Larger pupils and clearer lenses mean that up to 70 % more UV rays reach the retina compared to adults. Also, because children spend a lot more time outdoors, their annual UV exposure is about 3 times higher than for adults.
Short-term effects of UV
High doses of UV over short periods can cause a condition called photokeratitis - a form of “sunburn” affecting the front of your eyes. If you’ve ever noticed your kids’ eyes looking sore, red and watery after a day at the beach, it’s likely they’ve have had a dose of photokeratitis. Fortunately, like sunburn, the effects are short-lived – usually clearing up within 24 hours.
The longer term effects of UV are less obvious but potentially much more serious. Cumulative exposure to sunlight over a lifetime greatly increases the risk of developing conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as skin cancers on the eyelids and other delicate tissues around the eyes.
The good news is that by ensuring your children wear good quality sunglasses you can easily protect their eyes against both the short-term and long-term effects of UV rays. Always look out for the “CE” mark and/or British Standard (BSEN 1836) that guarantee safe levels of UV protection.
Remember, if your kids wear spectacles, they needn’t miss out on UV protection - sunglasses can be made up to their prescription. And don’t forget to let your children have some fun with their sunglasses. Kids’ sunspecs come in a wonderful array of styles, offering a fantastic opportunity to experiment with all sorts of funky colours and shapes.
So, if you’re taking the kids abroad this summer or spending a day at the beach, don’t forget to pack their sunglasses along with sun hats and sun cream. And even at home, don’t forget to think about UV protection before they dash out the door to enjoy the sunshine.
Have a safe and happy summer!