Pediatrician recommends sunglasses for children

Sunglasses provide protection from cataracts for people of all ages and pre-vention should start with small children. Wearing sunglasses, especially early in life, may help reduce the risk of cataracts says Michelle Miner, M.D., SIU assistant professor of pediatrics.

More than 20 million Americans older than 40 years have a cataract in at least one eye and that number is expected to increase by the end of the decade.  “A cataract is a  clouding of the lens of the eye.  The damage usually develops very, very slowly over a period of years,” explains Dr. Miner.  “Cataracts may be completely without any symptoms, but they also can lead to significant loss of vision.”

Dr. Miner says the ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays causes damage to the eye.  It has a cumulative effect over a lifetime and can cause cataracts to develop and impair vision. She says children’s eyes are especially vulnerable to the sun’s damage during the middle of the day. Typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the time of the strongest solar radiation. 

“Any time children are outside, their eyes should be protected with a pair of sunglasses and a hat. Also any time a person is around water, sunglasses should be worn because water reflects the sunlight even more and can really intensify that effect,” says Dr. Miner.

Dr. Miner recommends that everyone, even infants, wear sunglasses that protect 100 percent of ultraviolet A and B rays when they are outside in sunlight. She says the larger lenses which cover the whole eye are best. Anyone who is experiencing impaired vision should check with their primary care physician, an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.

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