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Singapore’s Child Magazine: Excessive UV rays a threat to children’s eyes

Excessive UV rays a threat to children’s eyes

In young children, they do not have enough of the naturally occurring pigment to reduce the amount of UV light reaching the retina. In adults, UV light exposure is associated with degeneration of the external parts of the eyes; pterygium (abnormal growth on the external skin of the eye), cornea changes and cataracts (cloudiness of lens) and cancer of the skin of the eyelids. If children’s exposure to UV light is limited since childhood, they will less likely develop eye diseases related to UV light in future.

Protection tips for your children’s eyes
They should wear wide brim hats or caps if possible in the day to protect against the sunlight. They should wear glasses with lenses that protect the eyes against UV light and be told to be more careful when playing contact sports or handling sharp objects to prevent injury.

Time spent on handheld devices should be minimised as near work is associated with shortsightedness. Children should go for regular eye check up to make sure they do not have any eye disease or eye conditions such as lazy eye.

UV protection eyewear tips
The frames and lenses should be of the right size and weight. It should fit well on the nose bridge, at the side of the head and behind the ears. The frames can be made of plastic or metal which are more durable. If the children are allergic to substances such as nickel, check that the frames do not contain them. The lens should be made of plastic, scratch-resistant with UV protection.

Polycarbonate lens can be considered for children playing contact sports. Parents should avoid using glass as the lens material can break causing serious eye injuries. Watch out for dangers Some fashion eyewear may not have adequate protection against UV light. If the lenses are tinted without the UV protection, the pupil of the eye will enlarge and allow more UV light to enter the eye, resulting in more UV related exposure and possible long term risks.

Incorporate eyewear technology
Photochromic lenses such as Transitions can encourage compliance of children to wear glasses. Photochromic lenses can adjust the level of tint according to the amount of UV light. When the child is indoor, the lenses will be clear and in the outdoors, the lens adjusts to a darker tint, helping to decrease glare. This is also convenient for the children as they only need to wear the same pair of glasses without needing clip on shades or another pair of sunglasses. They may also think it is a novel idea to wear glasses that can change colour and will be more motivated to wear glasses that can protect their eyes from UV exposure.