Don't Forget The Sunglasses!

Summer’s almost here and that means your little ones will be spending a LOT more time outdoors. This also means they will be even more exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. While you are covering your sun monkeys in sunscreen and sun protective clothing, don’t forget to tell them how cool it is to wear sunglasses too!

Children’s eyes don’t have the same ability as adults’ to protect from UV radiation, so it’s especially important to make sure their little eyes are covered when in the sun. Marcia Brantley is the Preschool Director for Prevent Blindness NC and tells The Mom Report, “It’s never too early for children to wear sunglasses.”

Why is it important for children to wear sunglasses?

Sunglasses help you in two important ways. They filter light and they protect your eyes from damaging UV rays. Mounting evidence shows that exposure to UV rays can damage your eyes. Long-term exposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration or skin cancer around the eyelids. Children are at special risk from the harmful effects of UV rays, since their eyes do not have the same ability as adults’ to protect from UV radiation.

What should parents look for when choosing sunglasses?

  • Read the labels! Look for labels that clearly state the sunglasses block 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.

  • Check to make sure the sunglasses fit well, are comfortable and are not damaged.

  • The lenses should be impact resistant and should not pop out of the frames.

  • Choose lenses that are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles and do not distort colors.

Any tips to help parents get their child to wear them?  

  • Model good sunglass-wearing habits such as wearing your sunglasses whenever you are outside.

  • Sunglasses with an elastic band are a good option for very young children.

What should parents do if their child refuses to wear them?

Find a wide-brimmed hat for your child to wear. This will also give your child protection against the sun. Wearing a hat can cut the amount of UV rays that reach the eyes in half.  Be sure the hat blocks 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.

Any other important tips for protecting our children’s eyes when out in the sun?

  • Sunglasses are the best protection for your child’s eyes from the sun.  However, shade of any kind (stroller shade, pool tent, beach umbrella, etc.) can still aid in protecting your child’s eyes.

  • Regularly eating the following foods can help lead to good eye health:

    • Green vegetables are packed with vitamins A, B12, C and Calcium — all important for eye health and found in spinach, collard greens, broccoli and kale.

    • Eggs contain many proteins beneficial to the eye’s lens.

    • Carrots contain beta-carotene, also good for the retina, protects against sun damage.  Carrots dipped in peanut butter make a good snack.

    • Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good for the eyes. Go for oily fish such as salmon or tuna.

    • Nuts like almonds, cashews, and peanuts are also rich in Omega-3. 

    • Avocados contain more lutein, a food linked to eye health, than any other fruit.

Kellie Smith