Grandparents might remember the days when parents were warned that wearing sunglasses would damage a child’s eyesight. Those days are long gone and things have changed. In fact, it may be not wearing sunglasses that actually contributes to damage to a child’s eyesight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that infants and children under the age of 10 “may be at increased risk for retinal injury” and recommends that even infants over the age of 6 months should wear sunglasses.
Under the age of 10, children have more delicate skin around the eyes and because the lenses of their eyes are clear, they allow for increased solar penetration. Research supports that as much as 80 percent of ultra violet damage to the eyes is done before the age of 18.
UV light can contribute to conditions of the eye such as cataracts and retinal damage. Early protection from harmful UV rays can help prevent the damage to an eye that takes place over time and help reduce the risk of developing future eye damage.
Parents should look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the full UV spectrum. The AAP warns parents to be weary of sunglasses that are not specifically labeled as, “Blocks 99 percent of ultraviolet rays,” “UV absorption up to 400nm,” or “meets ANSI (American National Standards Institute).” It is recommended that parents stay away from glasses that say only “blocks harmful UV.” The AAP advises that larger lenses, well-fitted and closer to the surface of the eye provide the best protection.
In addition to labeling, parents should look for sunglasses that are:
- Resistant to shattering
- Fit over prescription glasses
For the child who will not keep the sunglasses on, wearing a wide brim hat should be enforced.
The Eye Care Center at Augusta University Medical Center provides routine as well as medical and surgical eye care for children. In addition to our ophthalmologist, we provide optometrists for routine exams and glasses and contact fittings. Visit augustahealth.org/eye-care to make an appointment.
Sources: The American Academy of Pediatrics- Gateway