One of the most rewarding, and yet, challenging jobs a person can have is being a parent. On the one side, children are inspiring, innocent, funny, and in many ways tiny versions of ourselves. However, with all that enjoyment comes a great deal of responsibility. Not only do we need to feed them healthy foods, and provide them with clothes and shelter, we also need to protect them from the world around them. And while threats to children can take many forms, some more obvious than others, one threat to children’s health that consistently get’s overlooked is the sun.
Most parents and guardians are aware that sunscreen is a must when it comes to children playing outside. Sadly, what many are unaware of is that a child’s skin isn’t the only thing that is vulnerable to the sun, for their eyes are at an equal, if not greater risk. And while many parents may choose to put sunglasses on their children for a quick photo-op or because it looks ‘cute,’ in reality, this is something that should be practiced whenever they go outside.
So whether you have an active child who enjoys the outdoors or are an active parent who brings their kids along, here are some reasons why you should get in the habit of putting protective eyewear on your children:
- Unlike adults, the lens of a child's’ eye transmits roughly 70 percent more UV rays than an adult eye. This puts their retinas at a significantly greater risk of damage.
- Unlike most of the cells in our body, the cells of the eye lens can never be replaced, nor can the lens repair itself. This means that damage can accumulate over time, which is why it is so imperative that children wear sunglasses at a young age.
- Children under 10 find themselves at a greater risk of both eye and skin damage due to their frailty. It is even possible for a child’s eye to become sunburned, potentially causing loss of vision for up to 48 hours.
- Typically, children spend more time outdoors than adults, and research indicates that as much as half of their lifetime exposure to the sun will take place before they turn 20 years of age.
- Direct sunlight isn’t the only problem, for the suns powerful rays can reflect off of sand, snow, water and even pavement; potentially cause immediate damage to the cornea.
- Children are typically smaller than adults, and thus, find themselves looking up in the sun’s direction more often.
- Unlike the skin, a sunburn on the eye doesn’t cause pain unless it is severe, meaning damage can often go unnoticed.
If you have children, it is important to speak to an eyeglass professional to discuss options for protecting your children's eyes so that they can get the most out of not only their childhood, but their future.