Protect your child’s eyes from UV rays

Optometrists stress the need to follow safe health measures to protect your eyesight from the direct Okanagan sunlight.

Wearing sunglasses in the summer is about more than looking fashionable.

Especially for children, it’s more importantly about protecting your eyes from overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays.

While considerable attention is paid to the need to wear protective sunscreen to ward off potential skin cancer, optometrists are concerned the same focus is not placed on protecting your eyes.

“While most people recognize the importance of sunscreen to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, many are unaware that UV light can cause serious eye damage,” said West Kelowna optometrist Dr. Stephanie Strawn.

Strawn says that damage can range from cataract problems to macular degeneration, cornea burn and eyelid skin cancer.

Cataracts are a condition where a normally clear eye lens becomes cloudy and opaque.

Cornea burn, Strawn said, is recoverable but can be extremely painful while the eyelid skin is so thin it can become susceptible to cancer.

Macular degeneration is a medical condition that usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the centre of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina.

Strawn says 50 per cent of the damage to your eyesight occurs before people reach 18, which is why optometrists want to make people aware of the destructive potential of UV ray damage.

That means the damage to your eyes at 60 may have largely been initiated when you were a child. “That’s because kids tend to be outside more and their exposure to the sun is greater,” Strawn said.

She explained direct sunlight can be a negative adversary to a person’s long-time eyesight health, as can reflection of the sun off the water in the summer or the snow in the winter.

“I always say if you can afford only one pair of quality sunglasses in your family, buy them for your kid and not for an adult. Kids are in the greatest need of protection,” she said.

That’s due in part to the lens in a child’s eye not having the capability to filter UV rays compared to that of an adult.

She says parents should be mindful of buying a cheap pair of sunglasses for $5 or $10 because of the limitations of the self-advertised UV ray protection.

“On inexpensive eyeglasses, the UV coating is sprayed onto the outside of the lenses, so if you scratch or wash the lenses, it wears down that UV coating over time,” she said.

“The more expensive sunglasses have that coating inside the lens so it doesn’t wear down.”

With the month of June having been Cataract Awareness Month, with an estimated 3.2 million Canadians living with that eye condition, B.C. optometrists have suggested several precautions to protect your vision:

• Avoid sources of UV radiation. Don’t stare directly at the sun and be aware of reflections from snow, water, sand and pavement.

• Protect your peepers. Wear sunglasses that are 100 per cent blocking against both UVA and UVB rays, are close-fitting with a wrap-around style frame to help keep light out.

• Stay informed. Get regular eye exams, and check out the UV Canada smartphone app for up-to-date info on UV radiation in your area.

• Keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.

• Keep your children younger than six months of age out of direct sunlight, and ensure children of all ages wear sunglasses or sun hats when outside.

Just Posted

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

Okanagan athletes among those celebrated with Aboriginal awards

Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport handed out

Okanagan makes Top 5 of least affordable home markets list

The Okanagan is the fourth least affordable place in Canada to buy property on a single income

Kelowna summit will connect employers and immigrants

A session will be held tomorrow from 12 to 3 p.m. at the downtown library

Suspected overdose, poisoning calls jump in Okanagan

BCEHS statistics show calls rose last year in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Americans blank Rockets in playoff opener

Patrick Dea stops all 39 shots to lead Tri-City to victory in Game 1 in Kelowna

Canucks find scoring touch in 5-2 win over Blackhawks

Four Vancouver skaters have two points apiece in victory over Chicago

Kamloops landlord dealing with aftermath of firebombing

Kamloops landlord claims tenant to be a nightmare

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read