UV Protection & Kids Sunglasses

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By Dr. Jeff Goodhew Updated: May 20, 2014

Parents are quite good at protecting their kid’s skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. However when it comes to the eyes, parents are often unaware that children are at higher risk of UV damage to their eyes than adult are.

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With summer now upon us, many parents have a routine. Slip on a shirt, slap on a hat and slop on some sunscreen before they let their kids play outside. But all too often parents forget about sunglasses. There are many factors that make children’s eyes much more susceptible to UV damage than adults.

The young eye lets in more UV radiation

We all have a lens inside the eye, just behind the iris (coloured part) and the pupil (the opening). The lens in children’s eyes allows up to 80% of damaging UV light to hit the retina (the sensory layer at the back of the eye). It is not until we hit the age of 25 that the lens inside the eye blocks most of the UV radiation. In fact up to 50% of the UV damage to the eye occurs by the time kids reach the age of 18.

Kids have larger pupils

The pupil or the opening of the eye, is larger in kids thus allowing more UV radiation into the eye.

Kids spend more time outdoors

On average children spend more time outdoors playing than adults do.

Few kids wear sunglasses

A recent study in Hawaii showed that only 12% of children wear sunglasses.

What to do

Kids are creatures of habit and are used to putting on a hat and sunscreen before heading outdoors in the summer. Make wearing sunglasses part of the “deal” before they head outside.

When purchasing sunglasses look for a pair that offers good coverage of the eyes. A wrap-around style that fits snugly to the face offers the best protection. Also, make sure the lenses offer 100% UV protection or UV Block 400, both of these labels would ensure you are getting the best protection.

To sum up, kids eyes are more susceptible to UV damage. Add sunglasses to your sun protection routine as your kids head outdoors this summer.