This post is sponsored by The Vision Council, a non-profit organization which represents the manufacturers and suppliers in the optical industry. Tips for Family Trips was compensated for this post. #UVTips4Travelers
Sun safety is a major concern for today’s parents. When I was growing up, tanning was a summer priority, the occasional sunburn was normal, and I only used sunscreen on days when I planned to spend the entire day exposed to the sun.
Things are different for my children. The skin cancer message is out, and environmental changes mean that we are more exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun than we were a generation ago. As a result, I regularly slather my children with sunscreen. I’m not perfect, but I keep trying. I also purchase hats, swimsuits and clothing that block harmful UV radiation.
However, there is one area of sun protection where I know I was dropping the ball: sunglasses. My kids each have a pair of sunglasses, but they don’t wear them. I rarely think to pack sunglasses in our travels, especially the day trips. If I do, I don’t insist that my children wear them.
When I was asked by The Vision Council to attend an online seminar and write a blog post about sunglasses and the importance of UV protection for travelers, I accepted because I wanted the information for my own family. The good news is that protecting my family’s eyes from the sun is easier than using sunscreen. All it takes is a good pair of sunglasses.
How can UV rays from the sun affect vision?
Here are some of the short- and long-term problems that can result from UV damage to our eyes.
- sunburn of eye
- hypersensitivity to light
- premature aging, sunspots, wrinkles
- abnormal growths around eyelid
- cataracts – occurs earlier in people who have been exposed to a lot of sun in youth
- macular degeneration
- cancer of the eye, eyelid or surrounding skin
Children accumulate up to 80% of their lifetime UV exposure by age 18, so parents can make a big difference in protecting their children from the long-term affects of UV radiation.
The short answer is, anytime you’re outside during the day.
Sun protection is not just a summer problem. You should protect your eyes from the sun year-round. Water, snow and sand all reflect the sun’s rays back into your eyes. Water reflects 100% of UV radiation.
Are you planning a mountain getaway instead of a beach trip? Don’t forget your sunglasses. High-altitude increases intensity of UV radiation. Salt Lake City and Denver are among the Top 20 cities in the United States for UV intensity. UV radiation is still a danger on cloudy and foggy days too.
Tips for getting kids to wear their sunglasses
My children resist wearing sunglasses, which means that the sunglasses are more likely to become lost or broken. I was glad when The Vision Council offered tips for keeping sunglasses on young children.
- Purchase comfortable sunglasses
- Purchase fun sunglasses
- Let children choose sunglasses they like
- Educate children on why UV protection is important
- Lead by example. Wear your sunglasses.
- Carry your kids’ sunglasses with you for easy access
Tips for purchasing sunglasses
Look for the UV protection sticker. Dark glasses without UV protection can cause more eye damage because hey cause the eye to dilate and let in more UV radiation.
There is nothing wrong with buying inexpensive sunglasses. There are lots of good ones available. However, if you’re buying cheap glasses, there is no guarantee that they offer good protection, even if they have a UV sticker. Reputable brands sold by reputable businesses are usually a good bet. If you’re not sure about your sunglasses, you can take the glasses to an eye care professional for testing.
Another safety feature to look for are polycarbonate lenses. They are impact and shatter resistant.
The Weather Channel and other websites show the UV index for travel destinations. Search for your destination and click on “Weather Details.” The higher the UV index, the greater potential for sun damage.
What parents do when their children are young can have long-lasting effects on their children’s habits and health. It’s difficult to undo sun damage once it is done, so I plan to be more diligent about encouraging my children to wear their sunglasses from now on. Thank you to The Vision Council for this helpful information.