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Guarding Your Child’s Vision: Shielding Them from Harmful UV Rays

As parents we do everything in our power to keep our kids safe and healthy and protect them from potential harm.  We slather sunscreen generously on them every time they step outside because we all know how harmful the UV rays of the sun can be. What we don’t realise is that it’s not just their skin that needs protection from the UV rays, their eyes need it just as much. In fact, child eye protection from UV rays is even more important than adults because their eyes have not yet developed fully to protect them from UV radiation sufficiently.  Studies show that a child’s eye lens allows 70 percent more UV rays into the eye than an adult’s eye lens. Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to irreparable UV damage. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can look after kids’ eye health and protect them from harmful effects of UV rays.

As the weather gets warmer, children are out swimming, playing summer sports or cycling which leads to increased exposure to the harmful effects of UV rays. It is a potential hazard for conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts and thickening of the white parts of the eyes. We often forget the fact that our eyes are no less sensitive than our skin is to UV rays and this is particularly true with regard to kids. There are some simple safeguards you can take to keep kids’ eyes shielded from the sun.

Make Them Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only make kids look cute and adorable, it’s also an essential part of eye care for children as it blocks the harmful effects of UV rays. Sunglasses can drastically reduce the chances of developing eye ailments caused by the sun. There are a variety of sunglasses that are especially designed to fit infants, toddlers and young children, so go for it. Don’t go for cheap sunglasses and buy a pair that are marked with ‘100% UV Protection’  or marked as having a UV400 rating.

 They should be well-fitting and fit your child snugly. You could also go for a wraparound style as that offers full sun protection. They should feel good, fit well and cover the skin around your eyes as that will minimise the light that enters the eye from the top, sides and bottom of the lenses. Both plastic and polycarbonate lenses are available in sunglasses. Manufacturers must meet minimum requirements for lens quality, UV protection, impact resistance and labelling. Many optical shops have a photometer which is a device used to test the UV blocking efficiency of the lens.

For activities near water, snow and sand, polarised lenses are a good idea as these reflective surfaces increase UV exposure by reflecting light. Polarised lenses are ideal for reducing the glare from reflective surfaces.

Make Them Wear a Hat

Along with sunglasses, hats definitely add to the cuteness quotient of kids and offer added protection from the harmful effects of UV rays. Choose a well-fitting hat with a nice, broad brim as that can cut the amount of UV rays that reach the eyes by half and is an important aspect of eye care for children. A hat with a good fit shades your eyes and reduces sun glare. Explain to your child why being directly exposed to the sun’s rays can be harmful for their eyes. Teaching them good eye safety habits early in their life can go a long way in taking care of your child’s eye health.

Avoid the Sun During Peak Hours

The sun is at its hottest and strongest between 10am to 4pm. If possible, avoid letting your kids out at this time or allow them out in the shade. This is even more important during the summer months when the sun rays are stronger.

Stroller Protection

If your child is still using a stroller, ensure that it has a cover or shield on it. It is necessary to protect your child from being exposed to direct sunlight when you take them out in the stroller.

Be Equally Careful in Cloudy Weather

It is a widespread misconception that you are safe from harmful effects of UV rays when it is cloudy. These harmful rays can penetrate clouds and so it is essential to be conscious of sun protection all year round, even if it is cloudy or snowing.

Schedule Regular Eye Exams

Even if you take all the precautions mentioned above, you should still take your child for regular eye exams as that is the foundation of maintaining kids eye health.  These exams, conducted by qualified professionals, can detect and treat vision issues or eye conditions before they become a problem. Eye exams should begin during infancy with a regular follow-up through their school years. By doing so, any potential problems in your child’s eyesight come to light. Early detection of eye conditions enables timely treatment and maximises the chances of a full recovery.

Protecting the health of your child’s eyes should be a priority and following these simple and easy tips of eye care for children without fail, will give your child the chance of maintaining healthy eyes and vision. UV light penetrates the eye tissues very easily and potentially increases the risk of eye problems. UVA can cause ageing of the skin and sunspots and some skin cancers. UVB is responsible for sunburn and most UV related cancers. UVC penetrates the skin easily and can cause skin cell damage and skin cancer. Wearing a hat and sunglasses are the simplest and safest ways to protect your child’s eyes from UV rays. Try to keep your kid indoors when the sun is strongest and don’t skip on protection from the sun even on cloudy days. These precautions become all the more important because of the amount of screen time that children are exposed to today. A lot of parents have started realising the importance of giving priority to their child’s eye care. If you are looking for more information on ways to shield your child’s eyes and vision from harmful effects of UV rays, do visit the EuroKids website for latest updates.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice. EuroKids encourages you to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for any health concerns you may have. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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