When it comes to kid’s sun safety, it’s habit for all of us to slather on some sunscreen and get a hat on their head—but what about their eyes? Do your kids wear sunglasses, or have you ever wondered if they need to?
Should My Kids Wear Sunglasses?
Last week we had a family come in looking for sunglasses for their 11 year old son Ben* who is very sensitive to light. Sensitivity to sunlight can be due to various factors. Three simple ones in children are due to:
Large pupils which allows extra light into the eyes
- Light coloured irises eg blue eyes
- Poor focusing ability
While helping Mum and Ben* look at our range of kids sunnies, the two younger children were eagerly trying on some sunglasses together. Mum asked me if she should be looking at sunglasses for them even though they weren’t having the same troubles as their older brother?
The short answer? YES!
It’s never too young to start wearing sunglasses. Experts recommend that children should wear sunglasses when they are playing outside for a significant amount of time, especially in direct sunlight.
Common Eye Conditions That Result from Sun Exposure
50% of our lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. Because of this, many of the sun-related eye problems faced by adults can be prevented by wearing sunglasses from an early age. Some of the problems that may result from a childhood in the harsh Australian sun include:
- Pterygium (‘Surfer’s eye’) is a growth at the front of the eye that can cause redness, irritation and when advanced can affect vision. The highest levels of pterygium in the world are seen in Australia due to our high levels of sun exposure
- Sun damage to the crystalline lens – the eye’s lens, which helps focus light onto the back of the eye for clear vision can be damaged by excessive sun exposure, accelerating the ageing process and causing it to lose its clarity. Sunlight is a major risk factor for cataracts.
- Cancer – while eye cancer is very rare, it is important to remember that just like our skin can develop cancer from sun over-exposure, so too can our eyes.
How Do I Know Which Sunglasses to Choose for My Child?
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the right pair of sunglasses for your children. If you make sure the pair you choose has standard UV400 lenses or 100% UV protection, you know your child will be getting the maximum benefit out of their sunnies.
Buying kids sunnies with an elastic band around the back can help keep sunglasses on our littlest kids, and can also save them from getting lost. If possible, try and get a frame that wraps around to give protection from peripheral light. We have a wide range of kids sunglasses available at Eyecare kids including:
- Ugly Fish
- Cancer Council kids range
- Nike Kids
- Lacoste (kids and teens)
After informing Ben’s mum of all this information, she turned her attention to getting a good pair of sunglasses for all 3 kids. We settled on a pair of Ugly Fish for each of the boys (as they are ‘unbreakable’, have a 12 month warranty and are polarised for extra glare protection), while for 4 year old Evie* a pretty pink pair of Cancer Council kids sunglasses were her pair of choice.
Kids are exposed to an extraordinary amount of sun in their early years, and this does have a cumulative effect. Come into Eyecare kids and let us help you incorporate sunglasses into your traditional routine of Slip, Slop, and Slap. Remember that even when it’s cloudy, harmful UV rays are present and sun protection should be year-round. ⛅
*not the kids’ real names