Many studies have shown that protection from Ultraviolet light may help prevent degenerative problems in the eye later in life. Therefore, eye doctors have educated patients on the importance of wearing sunglasses and adding ultraviolet protection to clear eyeglasses. But what about children? Parents have struggled with keeping their toddlers in sunglasses for all of the right reasons, but are sunglasses that important at very young ages? This article will address this issue and hopefully shed a little light (sorry) on the subject.
Ultraviolet light – what is it?
Light is made up of various wavelengths. Some of these wavelengths are visible, like the colors of the rainbow. But other wavelengths are not visible, ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. Infrared light is how your remote control connects to your television set. Ultraviolet light is the invisible light that causes sunburn, skin cancers, and other damaging effects on the human body. A little exposure to ultraviolet light is fine; in fact the body needs some exposure to UV light for normal function. However, excessive UV exposure causes permanent changes to the skin, increases the risk for skin cancer, and has been linked to degenerative disease in the retina. Some studies also link excessive UV exposure to cataract (a clouding of the lens inside the eye).
Should children be protected from UV light to prevent damage later in life? To a certain extent the answer is yes. But is this practical? Probably not. Try strapping on a pair of sunglasses on a 3 year old and see how many seconds until it’s ripped off and tossed on the ground. Many doctors advise eye protection from UV light, but in a more practical way, such as the wearing of hats and avoiding direct sun exposure. This is simpler and more likely to work with very young child.
When children will be wearing eyeglasses to improve their vision it makes perfect sense to address UV exposure in their lenses. UV protective coatings are actually clear, and some materials block out most of the UV light automatically. Most doctors would advise UV protection for all of their patients, especially children since they’re outdoors more often than adults. A separate pair of prescription sunglasses can offer UV protection and comfort from the brightness from the sun. Also, Transition brand lenses block out UV and darken up to a offer comfort in the sun as well, offer the best of both worlds in one set of eyeglasses. So, ask your pediatric eye doctor for their recommendations and have fun outside without any worries.