Parents warned on dangers of sun damage to children’s eyes

The sight charity Eyecare Trust is warning parents that they should protect their children’s eyes from the sun, or put them at risk of permanent damage to their sight.

A child’s eyes are at greater risk of damage from ultraviolet light because the pupils are larger and lenses clearer, which means up to 70% more UV light reaches the retina than in an adult’s eye. As it is, eyes are ten times more sensitive to UV light that skin.

Latest figures from World Health Organisation estimate that this lack of natural eye protection combined with the disproportionate amount of time children spend playing outdoors could mean that as much as 80 per cent of a lifetimes’Â’ UV is absorbed into the eye by the time a child reaches the age of 18.

Cumulative exposure to UV is one of the main risk factors of age-related macular degeneration,– the leading cause of sight loss in the UK and cataracts, a clouding of the eyes lens, which affects one in three people aged over 65 years.

Rosie Gavzey, Director of the Eyecare Trust, says that UV damage to the eyes is cumulative and irreversible.

“”Ideally all children – and adults – should wear good quality sunglasses and a peaked hat when spending any time outdoors. It’s especially important for parents to safeguard their children’s eyes when they are playing on the beach or by water where there is a lot of reflected light,” she said.

”When buying childrenÂ’’s sunglasses you should always ensure that they carry the European Standard CE mark or the British Standard BSEN 1836:1997 to ensure that the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.

‘Toy’ sunglasses or those not providing at least 99 per cent protection from UVA & UVB can actually cause more damage because the tinted lenses dilate the pupil allowing more UV light to enter the eye.

The Eyecare TrustÂ’s Top Tips For KidsÂ’’ Eye Protection:

1. Wear sunglasses that carry the European or British Standard marks

2. For maximum protection wear a cap or brimmed hat in addition to your sunglasses.

3. Stay out of the midday sun.

4. Choose plastic or toughened glass lenses for added durability.

5. Ensure the sunglasses fit well and feel comfortable:– your optician can advise on styles and sizes to ensure maximum protection and fit. Foam frames can be a good option for very young children.

6. Check out the range of funky colours and sunglass designs available for children.