By Lorrie Oliver, Doctor of Optometry
It has been drilled into our heads: UV rays are bad! By now, most people remember to slather the kids with sunscreen before sending them out the door, but a lot of parents forget that those little eyes also need protection.
Children actually receive more annual sun exposure than the rest of us because of all the time they spend outside. Their developing eyes can’t filter UV light as well as ours, which means they are vulnerable to retinal damage. Also, UV damage often goes undetected and adds up over time, so it’s important to start protecting their eyes at an early age.
Here are some quick tips to help you choose the right sunglasses for your sun babies:
- Look for UVA and UVB protection. This will often be represented with a sticker or label. If the level of protection isn’t clear, ask for help. Toy sunglasses are not a supplement for the real thing.
- Make sure they fit. A proper fit will ensure your child is getting full protection from UV light. Rubber frames may feel more comfortable behind children’s ears and provide a snug fit without pinching.
- Don’t break the bank. Tests have shown that inexpensive sunglasses can provide full UV protection. Keep in mind however, that cheap models may have imperfections that can distort vision and cause headaches or eye strain. If you want to ensure your child is wearing a good quality product, it’s best to buy from a reputable professional or retailer.
- Take them shopping. Taking your child along on the shopping trip will allow them to try the sunglasses on for comfort and style. It gives them a say in the decision, which will hopefully increase the chances that they will actually wear them!
Before making that final decision, it’s a good idea to take your children for a comprehensive eye exam with a Doctor of Optometry to make sure their eyes are healthy. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of annual eye exams for children until they turn 19.
To find a Doctor of Optometry near you, visit http://www.optometrists.ab.ca/find-an-optometrist.