I have to admit that until last week I was pretty laid back about sunglasses. I’ve always lived in the South, so it’s pretty bright outside most of the year. Sunglasses help me see better when I’m driving in the afternoon and look cute holding my hair back. Beyond that, I haven’t really been very careful about wearing them to protect my eyes. Even worse, I haven’t been careful about protecting my children’s eyes.
It’s important to be aware of the damage that can occur without proper eye protection. There are some very serious vision disorders that can be caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB rays can even lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, abnormal growths on the eye’s surface and cancer of the eye. UV damage can not be reversed, so protection and prevention is very important.
Risk of Vision Damage
- There are several factors that affect the risk of UV damage to eyes:
- Age – children receive up to three times more sun exposure than adults. Research has shown that children’s eyes are especially at risk of UV-related damage because a child’s lens can’t filter out the UV rays, allowing more radiation to reach the retina.
- Eye Color – Studies indicate that eyes of lighter color may be at more risk for UV damage than darker colored eyes. The pigment melanin that is more plentiful in darker eyes may actually act as a protective element.
- Geography – In the U.S., areas in the South tend to get more intense solar rays than those in the North. Elevation also can make a difference, as the thinner atmosphere of high altitudes don’t absorb much radiation.
The Vision Council
I was able to take part in a discussion last week with several members of The Vision Council, a nonprofit association representing suppliers and manufacturers of optical supplies. They believe it’s essential to educate people about vision health and eye safety for adults and children. The discussion last week included Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, an optometrist and member of the Better Vision Institute, and Jamie Shyer, a chairman to The Vision Council. I was able to learn why it’s crucial for me to take better care of my own eyes and of my children’s too.
The Vision Council’s website, missingsunglasses.com, has a lot of great information and facts about eye safety and potential risks to vision. You can actually check the specific UV-risk forecast for your area by using your local zip code. This map shows the top 25 monitored cities with high or extreme risk of damage from being unprotected from the sun. My city is in this top 25.
Getting Kids to Wear Sunglasses
Now that I realize how important it is for me to help my children protect their eyes, we’ll definitely be wearing sunglasses a lot more. Here are some great tips from Jamie Shyer to help make that change go smoothly:
- Even though a child may love the sunglasses in the store, getting the child to wear them consistently can be a challenge. Let the kids pick out a favorite pair of character sunglasses or even decorate the sunglasses with small stickers.
- To encourage small children to wear sunglasses, make sure their favorite stuffed animal has some too. You can pick up an inexpensive pair for the animal and show the child how fun sunglasses can be.
- Set a great example for your children. If they see you wearing your sunglasses out in the sun, it will reinforce the same behavior in them.
If you’d like more information about risks to your or your child’s vision or to learn great ways to protect your family, visit www.missingsunglasses.com. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and information.
I wrote this post as part of a paid opportunity with The Vision Council through TheMotherhood. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.