Protecting Your Child’s Eyes

May 3, 2018
Protecting Your Child’s Eyes

The sun is finally out again, and it’s time to remember the importance of protecting your little one’s eyes.

The sooner kids start wearing sunglasses, the better! Protecting eyes from a young age means you are less likely to develop eye issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration (when the retina disintegrates or breaks down) that come with age.

Here are some tips to keep everyone seeing clearly this summer:

  1. For infants, give up the glasses and try a hat
    • It isn’t always practical to put sunglasses on infants as they often pull at them and put them in their mouth the first chance they get! A wide-brimmed hat is great not only for your baby’s eyes, but also their sensitive face and shoulders.
    • If your infant is comfortable in sunglasses, make sure you buy a pair that blocks the highest percent of UV rays.  Baby’s eye lenses are more transparent than, and not as developed as, adults. It’s also a good idea for the pair you purchase to include an elastic head band.


  1. What you do now, matters later
    • Before 18 years of age, our bodies are the most susceptible to UV radiation.  This is exactly the same time period when we receive the highest percentage of our lifetime sun exposure!  Therefore, protection in childhood can prevent adult problems related to sun damage.


  1. When you’re not outside, try to keep sun exposure for your children under 6 months to a minimum
    • It’s a great idea to put up a sun screen or shade on car windows when driving with children under 6 months. Infants are often mesmerized by the bright sun which leads them to look directly at it! Although windows protect your children from some harmful rays, the light coming through is still dangerous for their eyes.


  1. Pick the best time for outings
    • UV radiation is most intense between 10 am and 2 pm. This makes that time period the ideal time to have lunch indoors or break for a nap.
    • This is especially important information for fair-skinned kids! Children with fair complexions have less protective pigment in their skin and eyes which makes them more susceptible to burns and eye damage.


  1. Not all sunglasses are created equal
    • A lot of times the fun, vibrant, character inspired sunglasses aren’t actually protective. Steer clear of novelty sunglasses that do not offer UV protection, and make sure that the ones you do purchase clearly state they block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation.


  1. Praise and model
    • It can be tough to get your kids to embrace sunglasses. Offer them plenty of praise when they do! Try to also encourage them by wearing sunglasses yourself in appropriate weather, and point out other children doing the same.


Content adapted from Kids Travel Doc and Parents Magazine