Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunglasses; they do more than make your kids LOOK COOL

I dont know about you, but when my kids were big enough to start asking for sunglasses, I bought them for them because I thought it was so cute to see a little kid looking so adorable and hip at the same time. :) But with four of my six kids being blue eyed, I had no idea that my decision was the best thing I could do for them!

I was on Dr. Greene's website reading up on sunglasses and their important role in the protection of the eye from a young age, when irreversable damage is done to the eye; specifically lighter pigmented eyes. Dr. Greene states that unlike other cells of the body, "the cells of the lens of the eye are never replaced once damaged; the proteins of the lens are never replenished. The lens cannot repair itself; and damage accumulates over a lifetime." And that its in our youth is when our eyes are damaged the most BEFORE we think to put sunglasses on our kids for a purpose other than looking cute or cool.

Here's what he has to say on the subject, :

Excessive exposure to sunlight during early childhood is harmful to the eyes. Sunlight contains harmful UV radiation. The risk for retinal damage from the sun's rays is greatest in children less than 10 years old, although the consequences usually do not become apparent until well after they are adults.

Teaching your children to wear
sunglasses may be more important than giving them a college fund.

All children should be taught to wear sunglasses, especially between 10 AM and 2 PM, when ultraviolet exposure is the most dangerous. This is true even for children with darker eye colors, even though their darker pigments afford partial protection. Of course, children with light-colored eyes need sunglasses all the more. Ultraviolet exposure is at its peak when children are at high altitudes, snow-covered landscapes, bright sandy beaches, or near reflective bodies of water.

Most people wear sunglasses to reduce glare. This is trivial compared to the long-term protection they afford for the precious ability to see. Parents can set a good example for their children by wearing sunglasses at the appropriate times.

All sunglasses are not the same. Effective sunglasses should block both UVA and UVB radiation. Large lenses that fit close to the eyes are best. Those that block visible blue light are even safer. Thankfully, all sunglasses block UVB radiation. A great many sunglasses, however, do not afford UVA protection. Expensive brand names and polarizing lenses are no guarantee. The sunglasses must be measured to block 99% to 100% of UVA or UV400 (400 nm is the wavelength of UVA radiation).

Ordinary sunglasses make the situation WORSE! The dark lenses cause the pupils to dilate, allowing more of the dangerous UVA radiation to damage the lens and the retina.
This is a BIG WAKE UP CALL, fellow parents!! And the solution is quite simple. We all know that a toddler can demolish sunglasses in two seconds flat, so thats why its a blessing that childrens sunglasses are so inexpensive at places like Target or Wal Mart. You can get a pair for about $5 just about anywhere, and if you teach them to wear them from a young age, and model wearing them yourself, they are quick studies and as they will be a regular part of going outside, they'll leave them on after a few times. (I've got six kids, so I'm speaking from firsthand experience!) They may not like it at first, but they'll get the hang of it. :)
The long term dangers of life without sunglasses? Macular Degeneration and Cataracts are two common eye problems that have been linked directly to sun damage to the eye from childhood sun exposure. They damage the vision and without surgery to correct the problem, the vision is damaged. (see photo for an example of the vision of someone with macular degeneration)
So get some glasses on your kids (and of course, yourselves!!) :) You'll all look cool, and you can be proud for helping take care of the health of your kids' eyes!
Then email me some snapshots of you and your kids in sunglasses! :) I'd love to see them, and maybe put some on my blog. :)
And send me any questions you have to the above email address for the chance of having your question answered on camera and a little something from me in the mail! Be sure you include your mailing address!
Blessings and Health!