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Public health groups like the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics include recommendations that kids should wear sunglasses with 100 percent protection from ultraviolet rays. But a recent survey conducted by the Opticians Council of Canada revealed that 84 percent of Canadians apply sunscreen while only 12 percent said they wear sunglasses. The optician trade magazine 20/20 reports that only 32 percent of parents they surveyed make sure their child is wearing sunglasses when he or she is wearing sunscreen.
One reason for this gap may be that a sunburn is a cringe-worthy reminder that you or your child didn’t apply enough sunscreen on a particular day. Eye damage caused by the sun’s rays take much longer to show up, but it can increase the chance of developing cataracts, which cloud the eye and blur vision. The sun's rays can also damage the retina, the lining of the eye crucial to vision.
Kids more at risk
What’s more, children are more at risk from damaging UV rays because the lens in their eyes does not have any chromophores, a chemical component that exists in the lens of the eye that slightly reduces the penetration of UV rays, according to optician Josh Josephson, the owner of Toronto’s Josephson Opticians and a fellow at the American Academy of Optometry.
He offers these tips when choosing sunglasses for all members of the family:
- Do not assume the darker the lens, the better the protection.
- The glasses should block 99-100% of both UA & UVB rays.
- Make sure the lenses are made of polycarbonate material, as it is much more impact resistant than conventional plastic lenses.
- When shopping, make sure that the frames are large enough and rounded and conform to the shape of the face to help block UV rays.
Read on for more about protecting your skin and the best new sunscreens.