Children’s Sensitivity to Sunlight
- People receive 80% of their lifetime exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays before they reach the age of 18.
- The lens of a child’s eye will allow 70% more UV rays to enter the retina than an adult.
- Infants’ eyes are more sensitive to light; their lids are more transparent which allows a shorter wavelength of light to reach their retina.
- Keep children out of direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- In the short term, exposure to UV radiation can burn the front surface of the eye, similar to sunburn on skin.
- Not all sunglasses protect our eyes from UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays.
- When purchasing sunglasses from a store, look for ones made by well-known optical manufacturers that are labeled to block 100% against UVA and UVB.
- UV treatment is clear — darkness of a lens does not indicate how well it will protect your child’s eyes.
- Make sure the sunglasses fit properly. Close-fitting wrap around style glasses are best — sun rays hit from all angles, so glasses that are loose and/or do not wrap around the head still allow rays in from the open sides of the glasses.
- The best protection is polycarbonate lenses which are impact resistant (the lenses will not shatter and damage the eyes if hit) and block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Polarized lenses provide greater comfort from glare.
- Wear safety sport glasses for all outdoor activities. Again, the polycarbonate lenses are impact-resistant, so the lens will not shatter if hit with a ball or bat. They also block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Shattering lenses can cause serious, permanent damage. The polycarbonate material is designed NOT to shatter. If your kids are active, this is very smart investment.
- Hats help when sunglasses are not an option, such as for infants.
- Choose a hat with a wide brim.
- Wearing a hat and sunglasses decrease UV exposure by 30%.
- Make sure strollers have a shield or cover and use it.
- UV rays are present on cloudy days — children should wear protection for their eyes every day.
- A hat can be a useful solution if glasses are not an option.
Although age-related diseases such as macular degeneration are a long way off for your child, good nutrition started very early can minimize eye ailments in later life. Regularly eating the following foods can help lead to good eye health:
- Green vegetables are packed with vitamins A, B12, C and Calcium — all important for eye health and found in: spinach, collard greens, broccoli and kale.
- Eggs contain many proteins beneficial to the eye’s lens.
- Carrots contain beta-carotene, also good for the retina, protects against sun damage. Carrots dipped in peanut butter make a good snack.
- Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good for the eyes: oily fish such as salmon or tuna.
- Nuts are also rich in Omega-3: almonds, cashews, peanuts.
- Avocados contain more lutein — a food linked to eye health — than any other fruit.