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Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: UV Protection for Eyes

bt.calgary | posted Tuesday, Jun 4th, 2013

Most parents put sunscreen on their kids before they head outside. But are they insisting on sunglasses too? For Sun Awareness Week we ‘re looking at the importance of protecting our eyes from harmful UV radiation.

I spoke with Optometrist Dr. Farrah Sunderji and she says we should be protecting children’s eyes from the sun as early as infancy. She explains children are three times more susceptible to UV damage because their lenses are immature and unable to block as much UV radiation. Also, children spend more time outside than adults. And by the time a child is 18, they have absorbed 80 percent of the maximum UV radiation that you can safely.

If parents fail to get their kids to wear sunwear, the UV damage can lead to some serious eye problems down the road. Dr. Sunderji says prolonged UV radiation in the eyes can lead to early onset of cataracts (clouding of the eye lens,) age related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in Canadians over the age of 50,) photokeratitis or a sunburn of the eye and even cancer of the eye, eyelid and surrounding area.

Dr. Sunderji recommends buying sunglasses for your kids that have 100% UVA and UVB protection. If the sunglasses they use don’t have this 100% protection, their eyes are dilating behind the darkened lenses allowing even more UV penetration.

A couple of tips to make sure your children actually wear the sunglasses:

– allow the kids to pick out their own styles

– if your child already wears glasses, have them wear photochromic lenses, like Transitions or Photofusion lenses so they don’t have to switch out glasses or carry two pairs

And finally, do make sure everyone is wearing their sunglasses year round. Reflection is a big issue in every season. Water and snow both reflect 85 to 100 percent of UV radiation.

For more information about protecting your eyes from the sun visit:

http://doctorsofoptometry.ca/children-sun-damage/

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