A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Prevent eye problems with early sun protection

little girl peaks out from behind her sunglasses in a stroller

Aubrey Koziczkowski smiles bashfully from behind her sunglasses as she rides in her stroller. Eau Claire, WI

When your kids are young, you’re probably not thinking about vision problems they could have in their golden years.

Maybe you should.

Protecting kids’ eyes from the sun will help fend off eye problems later in life, Marshfield Clinic ophthalmologist Dr. Asha Okorie said.

Start habits that prevent eye problems

“Lifelong exposure to excessive radiation from the sun can lead to serious eye problems in adults, like cataracts, growths on the eye and cancer,” Okorie said.

Kids won’t show signs of eye problems caused by the sun when they’re young, he said. The problems usually begin when people are in their 60s and 70s.

Starting the lifelong habit of using eye protection at a young age can prevent these problems.

Use hats or sunglasses for sun protection

No surprises here: sunglasses and hats are the best options. The trick is getting your kids to keep them on.

“Any non-prescription sunglasses are fine as long as they have coating on the lenses for UVA and UVB protection,” Okorie said. “Those are the wavelengths that seem to cause eye problems. Wraparound glasses can provide additional protection from sunlight entering the eyes from the side.”

Many kids do better at keeping sunglasses on than prescription eyeglasses, she said. Try a hat if your child won’t wear sunglasses.

Certain health conditions cause sun sensitivity

Hats and sunglasses are especially important if your child has a health condition that causes sun sensitivity, Okorie said.

Albinism and hereditary retinal disorders are examples of conditions that make kids’ eyes sensitive to light.

Using eye protection can help make them more comfortable when they’re outside.

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  1. Avatar Jul 29, 2015

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