Have you ever noticed how funny kids look with sunglasses? Kids under 10 years old are at high risk of damaging their skin and eyes with UV rays. Their eyelids and eye contour are more sensitive and vulnerable than adult skin. “Up to age 10, the inner parts of a child’s eyes are more exposed, which allows more solar energy to penetrate and therefore greater signs of ocular changes can occur,” explains Adelaida A. Hebert, MD, Professor and and Vice President of Dermatology at the University of Houston. “After age 10, the eyes begin to dim, providing better protection.”

Exposure to UV rays causes 90% of all skin cancers. Additionally, retinal exposure is associated with cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of visual impairment. The sooner you protect your child’s eyes, the lesser the risk of developing future eye problems. Fortunately, sunglasses protect both the eyes and eye contour. However, children under 6 months old should never be exposed to the sun.

Ojos. Eyes. Asistencia médica para turistas y viajeros en Latinoamérica. Medical assistance for tourists and travelers in Latin America.

Consider these rules when buying sunglasses for children:

  1. Look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Buy ones that indicate the percentage of UV protection offered.
  2. Use play-proof glasses: look for shockproof and scratch resistant glasses that will not fall out of the frames.
  3. Let them choose: children, especially older ones and teenagers tend to frequently use ones they like best.
  4. Avoid glass lenses: unless otherwise recommended by a doctor, plastic lenses are safer. Frames should be flexible and unbreakable.
  5. Check the lenses: make sure the lenses are not scratched or deformed or have any other defect that could distort vision.

Double-safe: the skin around the eyes is still vulnerable to sun rays entering through the sides. Therefore, a wide-brimmed hat is a good backup. Seek shade between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, when the sun is strongest.

Source: Panamanian Association of Dermatology
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