Children’s sun protection – don’t forget their eyes!

We’re more than halfway through the school holidays and we are still awaiting the promised heat wave – hopefully it is just around the corner! Beach days, lazy days, pool days, picnics, going to the farm, or days out in town. This pretty much sums up every parents’ agenda for the summer with children.

As we prepare to leave the house, we always do that final check before we close the door …., keys, purse, nappies, change of clothes, snacks , drinks ….sun cream….sunglasses ? We smother our little ones in sun lotion, but it is easy to overlook protecting their eyes.

Even on cloudy days, our children’s eyes are exposed to radiation from the sun, and younger eyes can’t filter out UV rays as effectively as adults. Just because we can’t see the sun, it doesn’t mean the damaging UV isn’t there. We have probably all experienced getting sunburn on a cloudy day at some point! Don’t forget that sand and water reflect more light too so be it a beach, lake or river- there is more UV being scattered around.

Children have larger pupils than adults, and they have clearer eye structures due to their young age meaning that UV-A rays can more easily pass through the eye’s cornea and reach the lens and retina. Whilst UV-B rays can’t pass through glass or plastic, they can still cause eye damage if your child is not wearing sunnies and UV-C can cause cancer. It’s estimated that approximately 5-10% of all cancer is found around the eye and estimated that around 25% of UV damage to the eyes occurs before the age of 18. Our children’s eyes have got to last them a lot of years ahead – their life expectancy could exceed ours by decades.

Top tips

  • Sunglasses protection levels vary, so are divided up into filter categories.
  • Category three lenses provide UV protection of up to the 400-nanometre wavelength, the top end of the UV spectrum.
  • When purchasing a pair of sunglasses for your child look out for category 3 or UV400 markings.
  • For the best protection, choose a relatively large yet close-fitting frame.
  • Look for lightweight materials and flexible hinges.
  • If you have trouble getting your toddler to keep them on, try a sports band.
  • A hat with a wide brim also offers some shade for the eyes when the sun is high in the sky so a hat and sunglasses together provide the best overall protection
  • Sunglasses can also be available for sports models and in prescription sunglasses can easily be made for children

For advice, our qualified Dispensing Opticians are always willing to help. Ring us to book an appointment with one of the team, or pop in if you are passing and if someone is free they will give you personal advice on the spot! We stock a great selection of children’s sunglasses and they are all disinfected after being tried on.