Over the last few years there has been a movement in our country to better look after our health. From diet and exercise to protecting our skin from damaging sun exposure – being smart about health is in. So why then do 40% off Americans fail to wear protective eye wear? We have all learned the dangers of sun exposure to our skin so it only makes sense that those same rays can also damage our eyes. If you’re lucky it may just cause annoying sensations such as irritation, redness or swelling. But more serious consiquences include cancer of the eye, cataracts or Pterygium (abnormal growths on the eye and eyelid).
Anderson Cooper (host of Anderson Live) realized just how important eye protection after going temporarily blind while spending the day on the water on assignment in Portugal. He thought his eyes were safe but water reflects 100% of UV Rays. “I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire and I think, Oh, maybe I have sand in my eyes or something. I douse my eyes with water. It turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. I went blind for 36 hours.”
As an avid sun bunny and travel fanatic sun glasses rank high on my list of items to pack for days at the beach or trips to far away lands, just like my sunscreen. I made it a habit a long time ago to stash Coppertone Travel Size Lotions everywhere. In the diaper bag, in my makeup bag, in my suitcase, in my backpack and in the car. And even though I always remember my sun glasses for big trips, it isn’t something I think about on a regular basis. Especially when I’m out running errands, or lounging outside while I work. So I was concerned to hear the Los Angeles Ranks 9th in a list of cities with the highest UV index levels with 202 todays being labeled as “extreme” or “high risk.”
Forget the dangers of UV damage while I’m traveling the world, it’s my own back yard I need to worry about too! Furthermore, even though we *know* better than to look directly at the sun UV rays are still being reflected off the concrete, grass and water around us – even on overcast or hazy days.
With this information settling in the back of my mind it’s easy to say I’ll start wearing sunglasses more often. But really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over half of parents surveyed in a recent report by the American vision council, do not utilize sunglasses to protect their children’s eyes from damaging UV rays. To make matters worse by the time a child is is 18 he will have acquired nearly 80% of lifetime exposure to UV!
As parent’s it’s our job to protect our children when they can’t make the informed decisions to do it by themselves. If we lead by example now, and make wearing sunglasses a daily habit, they won’t need to make that decision later. They will already understand the value of protecting their skin and eyes.
With most things in parenting that may be easier said than done. Trust me, as the parent of willful three year old I get it. But The Vision Council has some really great tips on getting your kids to embrace the idea of sunglasses. Begin by involving them in the purchasing process. Kids are more likely to wear glasses they have picked out themselves – glasses that boast their favorite cartoon character can only help the process. Make sure the glasses are comfortable, unlike adults most kids are not willing to compromise comfort for style. Lastly, lead by example – you know, monkey see and monkey do!
Your kid probably isn’t going to nominate your for mother of the year thanks to their new shades. They’ll probably never thank you for the absence of wrinkles, cataracts or unsightly bumps on the their eyelids. But like with many things in parenting, immense satisfaction can be gained by simply knowing you have done the right thing in protecting something as important as their sight.
This conversation made possible by the Vision Council. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain my own. If you want to learn more about the benefits of sunglasses, the risk of UV exposure and other helpful information check out this Vision Council’s Report. You can also follow them on facebook and twitter.