Protecting kid’s eyes from bright sunlight is just as important as safeguarding against sunburn, according to medical experts.
Dr. Edward Cheeseman, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Specialty Clinics says exposure to bright sunlight can lead to vision problems in adulthood. “They’ll be very meticulous about covering their body with sunblock, but then of course there’s no protection on the eyes. So I would encourage parents to consider eye protection as well, because it’s been shown that it can lead to or at least foster the development of some other conditions later in life,” he says.”
Cheeseman says parents should do what they can to be sure their children’s eyes are safe from the bright sun. He recommends children wear sunglasses that would protect against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B, adding, “It’s hard sometimes, because kids are not always that anxious to have a pair of sunglasses on their face. And I would say, if you can’t get them to wear a pair of sunglasses, at a bare minimum, a hat with a broad brim on it would be better than nothing at all.”
Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration or other disorders that can cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
“Children that are under the age of ten, through the nature to their natural lens in their eye, they’re a little bit more susceptible to ultraviolet rays in the eye than adults would be. So I really recommend that parents get their kids off to a good start, particularly in South Carolina where the sun is bright frequently, and get them a pair of sunglasses that protect pretty much 100 percent of ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B,” says Cheeseman.
In choosing sunglasses for kids, Dr. Cheeseman recommends parents go a step further: “I also recommend that the lenses be made out of polycarbonate. That’s a safety material. That’s like what you would find in safety glasses at the hardware store. So that affords the children a layer of protection for their eyes from injury, or that sort of thing and also gives them ultraviolet protection as well. But parents don’t need to break the bank on these. You can find these at a relatively reasonable rate without having to spend a great deal of money.”