Keep an Eye on Your Children in the Summer Sun

Kid eye exam

With summer in full swing, your children are most likely outside soaking up the sunshine and having the time of their lives. But are your children taking the correct precautions against the sun and various other summer activities? While sunscreen is very important, eye protection is often forgotten. Eye and skin damage can occur during all times of the year from the powerful UV radiation of the sun. During the summer months, these UV levels are at their highest and pose the greatest risk. Believe it or not children are way more susceptible to sun damage in the eye than adults.

Why are Children’s Eyes at Greatest Risk?

When examining the eye of a child, the pupils tend to be larger and the natural lens is often clearer. This ultimately leads to a higher risk of receiving UV damage. As we age, this lens naturally becomes more yellow which helps reduce the amount of UV radiation that is absorbed. Since children do not have this natural protection, it is estimated that their delicate retinas are exposed to 70% more UV rays than adults. When this UV is exposed to the eyes, there is an increased risk in the development of debilitating diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration as adults.

What to Do

To help keep your own eyes and your children’s eyes safe from the sun’s harmful UV radiation, as well as general outdoor activities, here are some helpful tips:

Sunglasses-Just because you are wearing sunglasses does not mean your eyes are protected. Retail stores often carry many brands and fashions but not all of these shades are geared towards legitimate sun protection. It is important to check that the sunglasses are rated to block both UVB and UVA radiation. It is the UVA radiation that can be especially damaging to the retina. Furthermore when buying sunglasses, try to find a pair that fully covers your eyes, as well as the sides. So next time you put on your sunglasses, consider your children’s eyes as well. If you have shades on, they should too.

Scheduling-If possible, avoid spending time outside during 10AM-4PMwhen the sun’s UV levels are at their highest.

Swimming-When letting your children swim, be aware of pH and chemical levels. If your child does not wear goggles, severe redness and irritation can occur. If any irritation does occur, have your child take a shower and clean the eye with some eye wash. If irritation persists, consult a physician.

Protective Eye Gear-In the summer months, children tend to engage in more outdoor activities and organized sports that can pose danger to their eyes. For instance, every year there are approximately 20,000 sports-related eye injuries. The vast majority of these injuries can be prevented by wearing some kind of goggle or face guard.

Dr. Ron Rosa has been an Optometrist in Encinitas, CA for over 25 years. He is devoted to enhancing and correcting your eyesight by using state-of-the-art technology that will result in better vision, and a better quality of life.