Dr Shanel Sharma was a co-investigator in a ground-breaking study looking at early UV damage in the eyes of school-aged children. Using UV fluorescence photography - an established method to demonstrate UV damage in the skin – the study assessed the eyes of 71 children who were aged between 3 and 15 yrs. This was done in addition to standard clinical photography of the eyes.
The study found that children as young as 9 yrs of age were already showing some signs of UV damage to their eyes. In fact, 29% of children aged 9-11 yrs of age were identified as having early UV damage to their eyes, with many having more than one affected area. It gets worse: of the children aged 13- 15 yrs of age, 81% had UV damage to their eyes!
Even more concerning was that children as young as 13 yrs of age had visible clinical signs of eye disease, including pinguecula (which is a growth on the front surface of the eye). Of the 71 children, 10 pingueculae were detected on 7 children utilizing standard clinical photography.
We know that acute and cumulative UV radiation is an important causative factor for the development of eye diseases. We also know that UV light is able to penetrate into a child’s eye more readily than an adult’s eye.
Colour photo of the eye of a 12 yr old girl. Eye looks normal. But fluorescence photography shows a bright spot indicative of UV damage.
So we need to really protect our children’s eyes.
Ultraviolet Fluorescence Photography to detect early sun damage in the eyes of School- Aged children. Ju-Lee Ooi, Neil Sharma, Daya P Sharma, Shanel Sharma et al. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2006;141:294-298