CHICAGO (CBS) – Children sunglasses definitely look cute. But they’re important for your child’s health, too.
As CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports, some medical experts say early exposure to harmful UV rays creates a higher risk of cataracts in later life.
Little Matthew loves to play in the sun, and his mom, Nicki Gero, is glad that he loves to wear his sunglasses.
“It’s very, very bright, staring into the sun,” she says. “I’m sure it’s harmful to their eyes. I would just rather have them protect their eyes.”
There are no specific recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but medical experts say sun safety for the eyes of little ones is very important.
Renee Slade, a pediatrician at Rush University Medical Center, says eyes become less sensitive to UV rays starting around age 10. That’s why sunglasses are needed to protect younger kids.
“It’s absolutely important. Who wants to be at risk of getting things like cataracts and cancer of the eye and macular degeneration?” she says.
Parents have a lot of choices when it comes to baby shades. There’s the wraparound strap to hold the glasses firmly in place. There are glitter frames and colorful choices kids love to wear.
“I bring them to the store and they pick out their own sunglasses. They have several pairs, and they match them with their outfits. It’s fun for them, too,” parent Theresa Farrell says.
But are some better than others? Experts say putting low-quality sunglasses on your child could be worse than none at all. They can cause your child’s pupils to dilate, letting in even more damaging UV rays. Slade says parents should look for glasses that have at least 99 percent UV protection.
UV-400 also signals a high rating. One thing you shouldn’t look for is the color of the lens. UV protection comes from a chemical applied to the lens, not how dark it is. Cost also shouldn’t matter.
And as a parent, be sure to set a good example for your children, by wearing your own sunglasses.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” parent Sharon Pieters says.
If your child resists wearing sunglasses, don’t push it. A wide-brimmed visor or hat is helpful to keep direct sun out of your child’s eyes.