July 24, 2012

50 Shades of….Eye Safety?


Living in South Florida, we are very fortunate to have some amazing weather all year round. Since my daughter was an infant, we immediately took advantage of enjoying playtime outdoors, especially poolside. In pure Anti Mom fashion, she was decked out from head to toe in the cutest bathing suits and swimming accessories. I had a pair of infant shades that we would put on her because we thought she looked like a little movie star. Some days though, I just would put a cute hat on her head. Little did I know I was putting my sweet angel’s eyes at major MAJOR risk.

too cool for school with her new shades

I was lucky enough to be a part of an informative webinar with The Vision Council. They are a nonprofit trade association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. Their member companies manufacture and/or distribute everything from eyeglass lenses and frames to sunglasses to eyeglass cases and accessories. An important part of their work is educating adults and children about vision health and eye safety. And let me tell you-educate they did!

On the panel of speakers was Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, a member of The Vision Council who is also an optometrist and mother of 2. She opened our eyes (no pun intended!) to some of the negative effects from UVA and UVB rays on our eyes and our children’s. She claimed that children receive 3 times the annual sun exposure of adults. Since they are less mature then the eyes of an adult, a child’s lens cannot filter out UV rays thus causing more radiation to reach their retina that much quicker.

This exposure can lead to both short and long term vision problems, some of which can’t be reversed. Scary, right?! The last thing I would ever want is for my child to develop photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye) or something more serious.  Hell – I didn’t even know you could get sunburn on your eyes! As I was always worried about the UV rays, I didn’t put as much effort in protecting her eyes as I did her skin. That must change.

Some factors to take into effect in protecting your babies eyes is not only getting you and your family eye wear that is certified UVA/UVB protected, but Jamie Shyer, a member of The Vision Council and owner of Zyloware Eyewear, informed us that the color of lens is vital. If your family is always on the sports fields, look for impact-resistant lenses that are made from materials like polycarbonate, polyurethane or Trivex. If you are a beach and pool family, like us, consider getting polarized lenses that filter out glare. Even yellow/brown-tinted lenses will help you out in the water or beach by reflecting the light glaring off the water. And all these years I just thought the lens color was pure fashion-related! Duh.

Child eye safety shouldn’t be taken lightly. You want them to be protected and out of harms way when it comes to other aspects of life and let me tell you, those UV’s can be brutally harmful! The Vision Council was able to answer to some imperative questions that us moms had about child eye safety and I had to share the top 3 with you, for your own piece of mind.

  1.  If your child is like mine, getting them to keep anything on their heads is a struggle, so how can we get our kids to wear AND keep on sunglasses?  The Vision Council panel suggested that showing your kids wearing sunglasses can be “fun” will help them want to wear them more and rip them off less! Putting their glasses on stuffed animals or dolls can help. Or letting them decorate their shades with stickers to get them interacting with designing them will let them want to wear them more!
  2. What is the difference between UVA and UVB?  UVA rays account for up to 95% of our UV exposure and are present regardless of the season or time of day. Were as UVB rays are shorter and less prevalent, they are more intense and more prevalent in the summer months.
  3. Where should I go to buy a quality pair of sunglasses?  Any reputable retailer! Stay clear of street vendors or popular auction sites. Always look for sticker or logo from the American National Standards Institute with UVA/UVB protection. Mass retailers, drug stores and local eye care professionals are considered reputable. So if you have any questions, ask them! They are here to help.

Starting eye protection with your children from day one will help them in the long run and defer any type of eye damage in the future. Always protect their eyes with sunglasses and it doesn’t hurt to pair them with hat. If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to speak with the wonderful panel from The Vision Council, I would still be in the dark and putting my toddler in danger. To learn more about how to protect you and your family and the importance of eye protection, check out The Vision Council’s website.

UV Map of Projected from The Environmental Protection Agency and National Weather Service – find your cities UV intensity

And remember – buying sunglasses for you and your family that look good may be on the top of your priorities, but finding glasses that protect should be higher!


Disclosure: Although I received compensation as part of my participation in this campaign with The Motherhood, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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