We need sunlight, there is no doubt about that: it makes us happier and is important for our body to be able to produce vitamin D. Too much of sunlight however, can damage the skin and the eyes. Today, we want to focus on the eyes and how we can protect them.
There are four potential risks to our eyes when they are exposed to too much sunlight, or rather UV light:
- Inflammation of the cornea and the conjunctiva: UV rays can destroy the outermost cells of the cornea and the conjunctiva. In mountaineers, this is known as snow blindness. This temporary damage usually heals within one or two days.
- Burning of the retina: High intensity infra-red rays can cause irreversible thermal damage on the retina. This can happen when looking directly into the sun during a solar eclipse and causes blindness. Even a short exposure can cause permanent blindness.
- Cataract: Decades of UV-ray exposure may cause cataract, a clouding of the lens in the eye affecting vision. There are also other reasons for cataract such as diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
80 percent of our lifetime UV-ray exposure in the eye happens before we are adults, so it’s essential for children to stay protected from those rays. Parents protect their children’s skin using plenty of sunscreen but they have to teach them to pop sunglasses on as well to protect their eyes, too.
Children’s eyes are more susceptible to UV radiation than adult eyes because kids’ lenses inside their eyes are less capable filtering these high-energy rays. This is especially true for young children, so it’s wise for kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible. Additionally, in Switzerland, we have to be aware that the exposure to UV rays increases at high altitude. If you are planning your next holiday, remember that the same applies for tropical locations and highly reflective environments (such as in a snowfield, on the water or on a sandy beach).
Most children enjoy playing outside on a nice, sunny day. And that’s a good thing. Just make sure that your children are wearing sunglasses. Here are a some tips to choose the right sunglasses for your kids:
- Only buy sunglasses that are CE marked: only those guarantee UV protection.
- Ensure that the sunglasses fit properly. Wearing sunglasses that are even slightly off, allow sunlight to pass above, below or around the lens, causing damage to the eyes. Buy relatively close-fitting frames: they will help keeping debris out of eyes.
- Look for other important features like spring-loaded hinges. These allow frames to bend past 90 degrees, perfect for children. Impact-resistant lenses that are made from a polycarbonate or plastic lens that’s designed to not crack or break when struck, are also a sensible idea, especially when buying sunglasses for outdoor activities.
- Choose sunglasses that offer 100 % protection of both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays.
- Look for rubber frames that are soft and flexible, so your kids won’t break them and adjustable bands for greater comfort.
- The level of UV protection sunglasses provide has nothing to do with the color of the lenses, the choice of color and tint density is a matter of personal preference.
You can order premium quality, 100% UV protective sunglasses from our partner FamilySafety. The RealKids and BabyBanz sunglasses are designed specifically for babies and kids. Click here!