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From an early age, exposure to ultraviolet rays can have an impact on the visual health of children in the long term. It is, therefore, necessary to take precautions when exposing your child to the sun.
Here is some great advice from JLR eye hospital for raising awareness and offering the most suitable protection solutions for their eyes.
The need for sun protection for your child
Children are often outside to play or practice sports, so they are naturally exposed to the sun’s rays. You can not stop them from playing outside. The lens of children is permeable to UVA rays (UVA is a type of ultraviolet rays). It only becomes impervious to UVA in adulthood.
- At 5 years: 15% impermeability of the eye to UVA.
- At 15 years old: 50% impermeability of the eye to UVA.
The damage caused in childhood is cumulative and promotes pathologies in adulthood. The visual capital of children is precious. They must be protected from irreversible damage that the sun could cause them.
How to protect your baby’s eyes in this summer weather?
A hat, t-shirt, sunscreen, but also sunglasses are crucial to protect the baby from the sun’s rays. The latter is safe against the dangers of the sun for their eyes.
The sun shines very beautifully in the month of July. The sun’s rays are pleasant for the skin and the morale of the little ones. Walks in the open air, family outings, the excuses are good to seize to take advantage of the good weather.
But are you taking the necessary precautions to protect your child from the sun? Apart from a cap and t-shirt what else is required?
Are you thinking about sunglasses? They are really essential to protect a baby’s eyes from the sun, they must adapt to the child’s morphology.
The vision of the baby step by step
The newborn has a very basic perception of the objects and the people around them, the way they see the world. Their eyes, which are still fragile, should not be too widely exposed to light. Vision is acquired gradually. The children learn to walk, speak, and also to see the things around them. The child’s vision progresses very quickly:
- At birth: the vision of the newborn is extremely blurred and imprecise. It does not distinguish any color but simply shades of gray.
- Between 1 and 2 months: the children can only see at a maximum distance of 30 cm. They recognize their mum’s or dad’s voice and associate it with a face. The rest of the time, their vision is still blurry.
- From 3 months to 6 months: the children differentiate the primary colors and recognize their parents better and better. Their gaze circulates more easily from one point to another.
- From 6 months: the children catch objects, and differentiate shapes. Their hands are pincers that catch everything in their path. Their vision becomes clearer and clearer. Once in the past 6 months, the children clearly distinguish who are the people in their family and the strangers.
- At 1 year: their vision is equivalent to 4/10ths.
Although it may be surprising, the newborn is able to distinguish between day and night. It is very receptive in case of excessively intense light (flashlights, shiny objects) and conversely, in case of sudden darkness (a light that goes out at night).
The eyes of newborns are more fragile than that of an adult
The eyes of newborns are therefore receptive to light, and being very sensitive, cannot tolerate too high an intensity. The mode of operation and the reception of the sun in the eye do not have the same impacts on an adult and on a child:
- For an adult: ultraviolet rays (UV) are absorbed by the lens and the cornea.
- For a child: UV rays penetrate much deeper, reaching the retina. They, therefore, do not filter light (especially harmful UV rays). Their crystalline form is perfectly transparent.
90% of ultraviolet rays are not filtered when the child is under 1 year old. Between 1 and 2 years, some rays still reach 60% of the retina, which is dangerous for the eyes of the little one. Overexposure to the sun of the child can therefore cause a lot of damage.
Irreversible consequences on the eyes
Just like the skin, the harmful reactions of the sun caused to the eyes can occur a few years later and present themselves in different forms:
- Keratitis: the cornea is considerably damaged. It manifests as red eyes.
- Dryness of the eyes: the heat and the sun are the causes of the dryness of the eyes.
- Ophthalmia: the cornea is burned following too much exposure of the eyes to the sun.
Protect baby’s eyes from the sun
Good daily habits will be a great help in protecting the baby’s eyes. The children must also be aware of the risks they run if they do not take the trouble to protect their eyes. The parent must then teach their children the simple actions to perform and explain the consequences if they do not realize them. The children must, therefore:
- Have a pair of sunglasses purchased, preferably from an optician.
- Wear a cap with a light-colored (but not white) selvage or bucket hat.
- Preferably in the shade.
- Wash their eyes regularly. Favor a saline solution balanced with lacrimal pH, to eliminate grains of sand or other impurities.
- Consult an eye specialist or a pediatrician every 6 months to 1 year.
Which baby glasses?
Glasses are essential for going outside if the weather is nice. At the beach, in the forest, a baby’s eyes must always be protected. Here are the criteria for choosing a good pair of glasses:
- Good filtration
- Preferably a plastic frame
- A notice indicating the name and address of the manufacturer and the authorized representative.
- 100% UV protection lenses
- Polycarbonate and polarized lenses, light and resistant
- Round and rising glasses.
To make the right choice of sunglasses for your children parents can rely on a two-fold guarantee: the Brand, and Advice from their opticians or sun protection specialist.
Animesh Rai is a postgraduate in health and hospital management from the Indian Institute of Health Management Research, currently working as a Deputy Administrator at the Association for the Prevention of Blindness, a non-profit society, operating the 200-bedded JL Rohatgi Memorial Eye Hospital. Hospital also has a training institute that offers full-time optometry courses in Kanpur.