Pediatric Optometry Problems: Three Steps To Avoiding Summer Eye Damage

It's summer time, school is out and all your kids want to do is head outside and play. While you know you have to slip, slop, slap on the sunscreen to keep their delicate skin from getting burned, what precautions are you taking to protect their eyes? Following these three tips will help to make sure your child does not suffer permanent vision loss because of damage caused by being outside.

Protect From UV Radiation

The ultra-violet light which comes from the sun can do just as much damage to your child's eyes as it can do to the skin. This is predominantly because the skin around the eyes is thin, so it is easier for the UV rays to penetrate the eyelids. There are three main ways you can protect your child from UV radiation damage to the eyes.

  1. Teach your child that they should they never directly stare at the sun or at the sun's reflection bouncing off water. Water reflects the full strength of the UV rays. This means even though your child might be playing in a shaded area, they are still seeing a full dose of ultra-violet light coming at them from a nearby pool of water.
  2. Find a pair of sunglasses your child likes and get them to wear them. If the glasses keep falling off during playtime, purchase a strap from your optometrist that is designed to keep the glasses on the head. These attach to each arm of the glasses and then wrap around the back of the head. Purchase good-quality sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays. A wrap-around style is perfect because it keeps the sun from peeking through the side of the glasses.
  3. If you are struggling to keep sunglasses on your child's head, find a hat instead that has a cap peak or floppy brim to provide some semblance of shade over their eyes.

Protect From Eyelid Cancer

The next step in avoiding summer eye damage is to protect your child from eyelid cancer. While eyelid cancer is rare, it does make up 10% of all skin cancer diagnoses. Sunglasses are one way to protect the eyelid from the sun's rays and making sure you put sunscreen on the eyelids is the other.

You have probably overlooked this area while applying the daily dose of sunscreen, but it should be considered while you are covering the rest of your child's face. You can purchase sunscreens that are a light formulation and are designed for the eye area only. These types of formula are a good choice for children who have sensitive skin and who cannot tolerate a thicker sunscreen liquid around their eyes.

Protect Against Cataracts

While cataracts in the eye are normally associated as a part of aging, it is possible for children to experience this as well. Cataracts are a condition when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and cannot long reflect light clearly in the eye.

Cataracts can be caused by a genetic disorder, birth abnormalities, or excessive sun exposure. The best protection against cataracts is the annual eye exam your child attends with their optometrist. However, if you notice the symptoms of cataracts then another consultation with the optometrist should be booked as soon as possible.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • a white spot that has appeared in the pupil of your child's eye
  • a misalignment occurring in their eyes.

It is a wise idea to schedule your child's annual optometry appointment at the end of each summer. By doing so you can be reassured no major eye damage happened during the summer break and that your child's eyes are healthy and ready for the school year ahead.