Why are your child’s eyes more vulnerable to UV rays?

Your child’s eyes are even more sensitive to UV rays because, until the age of 12, their crystalline is not fully developed. Thus it cannot fulfill its protective role. The crystalline is a lens that, among other things, protects an adult’s retinas. Therefore, the crystalline of children under the age of one allows 90% of UVA and 50% UVB to pass through! 

Also, blinking in the sun is not effective in children. It is a reflex that has not yet been fully acquired and, while adults would be embarrassed to do so, children may keep their eyes wide open for long periods.

What are the consequences of overexposure?

Inadequate eye protection in childhood can lead to problems in adulthood.  For example, early appearance of cataracts (partial or total opacification of the crystalline lens, accompanied by a decline in vision) or an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) if the retina is too damaged.

As an immediate consequence, eyes can also be sunburn in the form of conjunctivitis with serious symptoms such as red, painful eyes, in which case, the cornea can be burned by ultraviolet rays. In these cases, a consultation is necessary.

When should you be particularly vigilant?

During the following months: April to September.

At what time of the day? Between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM, when UV rays are most intense.

In particular situations: When the reverberation is increased, for example, on the surface of the water. In addition, clouds should not be relied upon as they can distort risk assessment. The absence of direct sunlight doesn’t mean the disappearance of UVB radiation.

How to stay protected?

Invest in high-quality sunglasses. As for the lenses, choose those marked with anti-UV, preferably made of polycarbonate. This material absorbs 80% of ultraviolet rays, with a protection level of 3 or even 4 when the light is intense, such as at sea or in the mountains.

Have your child wear a cap or a large visor if they don’t want to wear glasses. Although they don’t replace the protection offered by a pair of sunglasses, they limit the effects of direct sunlight. Lastly, shade is still the wisest choice.

How to choose sunglasses?

Your child should try on the sunglasses! Choose sunglasses with a suitable shape and lenses that sit close to the face to not let the UV rays through and that fit well on the nose without marking it. The frame should cover the sides adequately and cover to at least above the eyebrows, with wide enough temples to keep out oblique rays. 

Beware of tinted sunglasses!

Because of the darkness, the pupil is more dilated behind these tinted sunglasses than when fully exposed to the sun directly. It is, therefore, more harmful for the eye to wear inadequate protection than not to wear any protection at all!