We all know to protect our skin from the sun, for fear of getting sunburn or even developing our risk of more serious conditions. It’s not often you go outside on a day with high UV levels without applying sun cream to yourself and your kids. However, did you know that you should also be protecting your eyes from the sun?
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Sunglasses aren’t just for making it easier to see in the bright light. They serve a purpose in protecting our eyes from UV light, which can be as harmful to our eyes as it is to our skin. We should all ensure that we’re wearing UV protective lenses whenever it’s necessary.
A Met Office survey revealed that most people in the UK don’t know just how damaging UV light can be to our eyes, even if the sun isn’t out. We can still be exposed to UV rays even in cloudy weather. The truth is that most of us are simply unaware of the connection between UV light and eye damage.
UV Radiation and Protective Lenses: Tips to Protect Your Child’s Eyes
What Damage can UV Light Do to Our Eyes?
Extended exposure to UV light has been linked to eye conditions like cataracts.(1) Photokeratitis is another eye condition caused by exposure to UV light. This is essentially when the cornea is sunburnt. It is largely reversible, but it can be incredibly painful.
Despite this, only 43% of UK adults say they own sunglasses that offer UV protection.
For children, the risk of damage is much more severe. This is because the front part of the eye, consisting of the cornea and crystalline lens, acts as a natural filter in adults. This filter absorbs UV light and protects the retina. In children, this natural lens protection doesn’t fully develop until they reach about 12 years of age.
This means children’s eyes are much more vulnerable. What’s more, children probably spend more time outside than adults do, particularly during the school holidays. A lack of awareness from parents on the dangers on UV light could result in damage to their child’s eyes in the long run.
It has been revealed that only 30% of parents are worried about their children being exposed to too much UV light and 4 in 10 adults don’t check UV levels before going outside.
How to Protect your Child’s Eyes from UV Light
There are many easy ways to protect our child’s eyes from overexposure to UV light. Trying to avoid being out in direct sunlight between 11am-2pm is a simple way for protecting our eyes and skin as this is when the sun is normally at its highest and hottest.
The most important tip is to ensure your child is wearing adequate eye protection, in the form of sunglasses. Be sure to look out for sunglasses that have a good E-SPF rating to confirm that they are protective from UV rays.
For children that wear corrective lenses to help them see better, there are UV protection solutions available too. After all, exposure to UV light isn’t just restricted to being on a sunny holiday. Lenses are now available that are embedded with additional UV protection, to ensure that your child’s eyes are protected throughout the day.
Cataract:http://www.pointsdevue.com/article/ageing-and-crystalline-lens, http://www.pointsdevue.com/article/effects-ageing-visual-system. McCarty CA, Taylor HR. A review of the epidemiologic evidence linking ultraviolet radiation and cataracts. Dev Ophthalmol. 2002; 35:21-31.