Sunglasses aren’t just for grown ups
Summer’s here and if you are a parent, you will no doubt be familiar with the daily challenge of making sure your child has sun cream on when they spend time outdoors.
But although protecting our children’s skin from the sunshine seems almost second nature, it is much less common for us to consider the effect UV rays have on their eyes.
Patrick & Menzies Partner and Dispensing Optician Dan Edwards, explained: “As a rule of thumb, if the weather is bright enough for you to put sun cream on your child, then they should be wearing sunglasses too, protecting their skin and their eyes from UV rays.
“Children should wear sunglasses as much as they can when they are in bright sunshine. People don’t always understand the importance of them and think of them more as a fashion accessory, but they can be of real benefit to your eye health in the long term.”
The build-up of UV exposure over a lifetime can lead to an increased chance of early development of cataracts and other problems at the back of the eye such as macular degeneration.
Wearing sunglasses not just in the summer but all year round will benefit your eyes and the skin around them, and it is even more important if you have light coloured irises which are more susceptible to UV exposure.
If your child doesn’t wear glasses and you are able to buy sunglasses off the shelf, make sure they conform with the relevant standards. The CE mark shows that they meet a minimum UV absorption requirement making them safe to use.
Dan continued: “For children who wear glasses, it is worth investing in prescription sunglasses. We stock a range of frames and can make a complete package for around £60.
“Unless there is a significant change in their prescription, you won’t usually need to replace the sunglasses until they grow out of them. If your child has had a recent eye test, we can use their existing prescription to create the sunglasses. Just pop into your branch to pick out the frames they like.”
Prescription goggles are also available and are a good option for children who wear glasses and are likely to spend a long time in the pool. Most incorporate a tint and a UV blocker.
The tendency to spend more time outdoors over the summer months may, in itself, bring benefits to our eye health.
Dan explained: “Research is ongoing, but the latest thinking is that when you are outside in the fresh air you are more likely to be able to focus far enough away that the eye muscles can relax than when you are indoors. That’s generally better for eye development, and it’s thought that spending more time outside may lessen the chance of children developing short sightedness in later life.”
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