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Health Matters

The Best Shades for Your Sun Baby

June 25th, 2015

By Dr. Laureen Laturnas

It’s summer, and you want your children to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. You always remember to slather on the sunscreen, but a lot of parents forget to protect their children’s eyes from harmful UV rays.

Children actually receive more annual sun exposure than adults because of all the time they spend outside at recess, playing sports and during playtime. Their developing eyes can’t filter UV light as well as adults’, which means they are vulnerable to retinal damage. Also, UV damage often goes undetected and adds up over time, so it’s important to start protecting their eyes at an early age.

Severe damage may result in bloodshot, swollen eyes and sensitivity to light. In extreme cases, a sunburn of the eye can lead to vision loss for up to 48 hours. Vision will eventually return, but the long-term damage can never be reversed.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to help you protect your child’s eyes: sunglasses. They filter out all of the bad UV light, and by getting children used to wearing them early, you’re setting them up with a good habit that will last a lifetime.

Here are some suggestions to help you find the best shades for your sun baby:


  • Look for UVA and UVB protection. This will often be represented with a sticker or label. If the level of protection isn’t clear, ask for help. Toy sunglasses are not a supplement for the real thing.


  • Make sure they fit. A proper fit will ensure your child is getting full protection from UV light. Rubber frames may feel more comfortable behind children’s ears and provide a snug fit without pinching.


  • Don’t break the bank. Tests have shown that inexpensive sunglasses can provide full UV protection. Keep in mind however, that cheap models may have imperfections that can distort vision and cause headaches or eye strain. If you want to ensure your child is wearing a good quality product, it’s best to buy from a reputable professional or retailer.


  • Take them shopping. Taking your child along on the shopping trip will allow them to try the sunglasses on for comfort and style. It gives them a say in the decision, which will hopefully increase the chances that they will actually wear them!


A good pair of sunglasses protects both the skin around the eye and the eye itself. Before choosing sunglasses for your child, it’s a good idea to see your Doctor of Optometry for a comprehensive eye exam. It will ensure your child’s eyes are healthy, and your optometrist will be able to take any current eye conditions into consideration. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of annual eye exams for children until they turn 19.


Dr. Laureen Laturnas is a Doctor of Optometry. For more information or to find a Doctor of Optometry near you,  


Tags: health, kids

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