UV and Kids


UV Protection for Children

Babies, children and young adults have more transparent lenses in their eyes and more sensitive skin on their bodies. As a result, they are more susecptible to the adverse effects of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. The negative effects of cumulative UV light exposure may not show up until later in life.
At 20 years of age, the average person has received 80% of their life’s UV exposure. This is why it is critical to protect our children’s eyes from the sun, beginning from their birth and continuing throughout their childhood.

For 13 Reasons Children should wear sunglasses, click here.

babiator boy

Westside Optometry has Babiator  sunglasses for infants and children. These sunglasses, designed especially for kids, come in 2 sizes and 10 colors. They have an amazing guarantee for loss and breakage.



Sunglasses as Prevention

UV and sunglasses

According to a 2013 survey by the American Optometric Association, only 40% of Americans wear sunglasses for the ultraviolet (UV) protection. I assume other reasons people put on sunglasses are to block glare, provide comfort and to look good.

Sun protection matters year-round

Are you active in winter sports such as snowboarding? UV protection is needed no matter the season. Consider this: UV radiation increases by about 4% with every 1000 feet elevation gain – and those rays keep coming even on cloudy days.

UV exposure can do short-term eye damage

You may not know about sunburn of the eye or photokeratitis. This condition comes from excessive exposure to UV rays. It’s not permanent, but can be extremely painful.

The sun can lead to long-term vision loss

Without proper protection, you can do damage to your eyes. Long-term over-exposure raises the risk of cataracts, pterygium, age-related macular degeneration and even cancer.

Sunglasses make a difference for kids, too

I hope parents are slathering sunscreen on their kids before a day at the beach. Sunglasses are important too. A child’s eyes are more sensitive than an adult’s so the need for protection is more critical at a very young age.


Protecting Children’s Eyes from Sun Damage

Parents generally take precautions to protect their children’s skin from the sun; it is equally important to make every effort to protect children’s eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and glare. Just as we may not see the damage to our skin for years, we also may not see the damage to our eyes for some time. But each part of the eye can be damaged by chronic or high-dose exposure to UV radiation. Even the glare of an overcast day can add to the cumulative affect. Possible effects of long-term sun exposure to the eyes include:

  • The development of skin cancer on the eyelids
  • Changes to the surface of the eye, such as non-cancerous growths on the white of the eye
  •  Over time, the lens becomes more opaque and decreases vision forming cataracts
  • Damage to the retina, which can lead to age related macula degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness in the US in people over 65 years.

In fact studies conducted over the last 30 years have proven that many of the serious eye diseases associated with aging are at least partially a result of years of sun exposure. Protecting children’s eyes are especially important due to two significant factors:

  1. Children spend more time outdoors. The average child receives 80% of his lifetime UV exposure before the age of 20.
  2. More damaging rays are transmitted through the young child’s crystalline lens to the retina. The eyes of children 10 years and younger transmit 75% of these rays; people 25 years or older only transmit 10%.

The simplest and most efficient way to prevent or delay the onset of   progression of various eye diseases is by using sunglasses or photochromic protective lenses designed to protect all damaging sun rays from reaching the eyes, ideally starting in early childhood. For a child who already wears corrective lenses, this can be achieved with polycarbonate photochromic lenses, which change color according to UV exposure. For a child who does not wear corrective glasses, a high quality pair of sunglasses is recommended.