Planning a vacation this year looks a little different from most. Governments all over the world have put their countries on lockdown, trying to prevent the spread of this awful virus. The rest of us are waiting patiently at home for the quarantine to end and for countries to open their borders once more.
This slower pace of life has given all of us the time to consider all sorts of things we wouldn’t ordinarily think about. One of those topics is the eye health of our kids.
We all know that children need to wear sunblock while outdoors to protect their skin from changes that could come back to bite them in the future. But we tend to think less about the potentially harmful effect that sunshine could have on their eyes.
Most parents don’t know this, but there is a very sensitive strip of nerve cells called the retina at the back of the eye. Over millions of years of evolution, this sophisticated piece of biological machinery became more adept at picking up light signals from the environment and translating them into brain messages.
The problem is that this thin layer is prone to damage from UV light, just like skin. When children run around the park or flop on the beach in sunny weather, ultraviolet radiation comes in through their pupils and damages the DNA in these cells, causing them to become dysfunctional. Sometimes, the body can repair the harm, but often it remains for life, and children wind up with eyesight that is much poorer than it could have been.
Vacation season, therefore, is a lot of fun, but it can also potentially damage your child’s eyes. Starting healthy eye care practices early, therefore, is vital.
Protect Your Kids’ Eyes From Toddler Onwards
Newborn and young babies shouldn’t be spending long periods in the sun. But once children get to the toddler stage, they’re usually ready for their first proper outing to the beach or trip abroad in the sunshine.
Getting kids comfortable with protecting their eyes from a young age with glasses is essential. When you start early, children see habits, such as putting on sunglasses before going outside, as perfectly natural. They almost do it instinctively, especially if they see you doing it at the same time.
Today, you can get sunglasses that fit even the youngest of children, so you always have options as a parent. Try to encourage them to put them on as early as you can and make it a regular part of leaving the house on a sunny day.
Get Sunglasses With UV Protection
Just because sunglasses shade the eyes, doesn’t mean they provide UV protection. Most cheap glasses use dark lenses that reduce the amount of visible light reaching the retina but don’t block UV radiation. Remember, visible light doesn’t harm the body at all. In fact, researchers think that being exposed to natural light helps the body function better.
On the other hand, UV light is dangerous, and our bodies aren’t able to defend against it well. When it interacts with the DNA in cells, it has so much energy; it can dislodge individual pieces of the genome on a molecular level, potentially leading to cancer.
When you select sunglasses, look to see what types of UV protection they offer.