Ask a Doc: What is the best way to protect kids' eyes from the sun?

Ask a Doc: What is the best way to protect kids' eyes from the sun?

Wellness

Ask a Doc: What is the best way to protect kids' eyes from the sun?

How can sunlight and screen time affect your eyes, and how should you protect your kids’ eyes?

Q: What effect can the sun have on your eyes over time?

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A: Two types of ultraviolet sunlight can damage your eyes.

  1. UV-A can hurt your central vision and damage the retina. UV-A can also damage the crystalline lens in the eye and cause the progression of cataracts.
  2. UV-B can cause sunburn to the eyelids and flash burns to the cornea in extreme situations such as snow blindness and welder’s burn.

UV light has been associated with the progression of pterygium, wedge-shaped bumps that grow on the surface of the eye.

Q: What steps can you take to protect your eyes, both short and long-term?

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A: First, everyone 45 and older should get an annual eye exam and a physical to check for blood pressure and blood sugar issues. Second, you should eat right with a diet high in green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

Third, exercise.

Fourth, don’t smoke.

Finally, be sure to wear eye protection when working and when exposed to sunlight for long periods.

Q: What about sunglasses? Are $10 cheap-o’s the same quality as $100-plus sunglasses?

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A: UV protection is a clear coat applied to sunglasses. As long as the UV protection is expressly stated on the product, and it’s 100 percent, you’re all set.

Q: What should I look for in sunglasses before buying them? 

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A: The most important thing is UV protection. After that, comfort is important because you should wear sunglasses when you’re outside. Certain polarized, mirrored, or blue-blocking lenses tend to cut down on glare and can be more soothing under certain conditions (snow, water, etc.)

Q: Does anything happen to your eyes when you stare at a phone screen all day long? 

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A: Staring at screens, whether phone or computer, for long periods of time can cause eyestrain or fatigue. However, this doesn’t permanently impair your vision.

One exception is in children. Phones are known to cause permanent changes in the eyes of children. Several studies have linked increased screen time with the development of myopia (nearsightedness) in children.

The risk lowers when kids spend less time with smartphones and iPads and more time outdoors! I coach my daughter in soccer and my son in baseball/soccer, and I can’t overstate the health benefits of getting kids involved in activities and exercise.

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