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Why Should Kids be wearing the Right Sunglasses?

While most people understand that Ultraviolet light is damaging to their skin, many people are less aware of the devastating impact UV light can have on their eyes. UV light can cause serious eye diseases, which can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.

UV exposure is particularly harmful to children’s eyes, because they are still developing their eye’s natural defences, and UV light can more readily penetrate their eyes. In fact, research has shown us that maximum UV penetration to the back of the eye occurs between 0 and 2 years of age, then 3-10 years of age, and finally 11-18 years of age, with up to 80% of UV damage occurring to your child’s eye before they have reached 18 years of age.

I published a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology in 2006 looking at eye damage that was present in children here in Sydney. We screened children with standard photography and UV fluorescence photography. UV fluorescence photography is universally used by Dermatologists (skin specialists) to detect early UV damage to the skin. Using this technique on the skin, lesions are detected approximately 10 years before cancers develop. We were the first group in the world to use this technology on the eye.

Our results were frightening for me as a mother.

We detected NO UV damage in children between 2-8 years of age. However, 1 in every 3 children aged between 9 and 11 years of age, had signs of UV damage using the fluorescence technique. In the group of children aged 12-15 yrs of age, 1 in 3 kids were detected with actual diseases of the eye in the form of a pterygium or pingueculae. This is astounding and frightening. In this age group we also found that 4 in 5 children had UV damage using the fluorescence photography technique.

So why is it that as a society we understand that sunblock is for sun protection but sunglasses are considered a fashion accessory?

I would argue that the problem is that we have failed to get the message out, but also our surgical techniques are so good that it hasn’t drawn the same attention to young people dying from melanoma or other skin cancers. But I certainly plan to protect my children from developing preventable eye diseases by simply wearing a pair of protective sunglasses with Optoshield Technology.

I also hear frequently parents saying to me, “ I didn’t wear sunglasses and I am fine!” But as an eye Surgeon, the problem is the diseases occur later in life, when you are grandparents, just like the majority of skin cancers. We all know of people having cataract surgery, pterygium surgery, cancers removed from eyelids or macular degeneration injections. What if you have the power of preventing that for your children or grandchildren?

So how do I know what is the right pair of sunglasses to PROTECT my eyes?

To help us answer this question, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Eye Surgeons (ophthalmologists) have released a statement indicating the features that are in my opinion essential.

RANZCO “ophthalmologists warn about eye protection”


Why are these features so important?

Unlike UV light that directly damages the skin, sunlight enters the eye in 4 important ways. Firstly from overhead, secondly directly in front, thirdly reflected from the ground / water/ snow, and finally from around the side of the glasses.

When you go out on a bright sunny day, you find it really bright and naturally you will squint your eyes. What you are doing is invoking your natural reflex to close your non-dominant eye. Simultaneously, you will narrow the pupil eye and narrow the opening between your upper and lower lids of your dominant eye. You do this to protect your eyes from the UV light.

As Eye Surgeons, the science has shown us you will develop UV driven diseases like cataract, pterygium and pingueculae first in the dominant eye because you have naturally had this open compared to your non-dominant eye.

When you wear ANY sunglasses, the dark tint turns OFF your natural protection. So the science indicates that you should ensure the sunglasses you are wearing will protect your eyes, since your natural defences have been turned off.

This is why Optoshield technology is SO important. This ensures that the light, which would normally come in from around the side of the frame, from above over the frame and reflected off the ground under the frame, is blocked.

Furthermore, any stray light that comes in does not bounce off the inside surface of the lenses into your defenceless dilated pupil, but instead pushes it away from the eye.

The lenses are polarised to minimise the reflected light off the ground/ water / snow entering into the eye and the lenses are UV 400 to maximise the protection of direct light through the lenses meeting category 3 of the Australian Standards.

Optoshield technology reassures parents that we have looked at ensuring your child is protected above the standards.  

Beamers sunglasses are the only ones in the world with Optoshield technology, which not only satisfy Australian Standards but have all the features as recommended by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Eye Surgeons (Ophthalmologists) for maximum protection.

I sometimes hear parents say, “But the pretty pink sunglasses are so much cuter”. That may be true but do YOU consider how cute sun-block looks on your child when deciding which one to smother them in? Shop for your Beamers Here!