Parents will often slather sunburn protection creams on their children’s bodies before going out in the sun, but ophthalmologist Dr. Edward Cheeseman says they should also be aware of protecting their children’s eyes.
“They’ll be very meticulous about covering their body with sunblock, but then of course, there’s no protection on the eyes,” Dr. Cheeseman says. “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 exposure to bright sunlight can lead to vision problems in adulthood. Cheeseman recommends children wear sunglasses that would protect against ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B.
“It’s hard sometimes, because kids are not always that anxious to have a pair of sunglasses on their face,” he says. “If you can’t get them to wear 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 the 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 and get them a pair of sunglasses that protect pretty much 100% of ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B.”
In choosing sunglasses for kids, Cheeseman recommends parents go a step further, without having to blow 200-bucks on a pair of kids’ shades.
“I also recommend that the lenses be made out of polycarbonate,” he says. “That’s a safety material like what you would find in safety glasses at the hardware store. That affords the children a layer of protection for their eyes from injury and also gives them ultraviolet protection as well. 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.”