Top tips for keeping your child’s eyes sun safe

Top tips for keeping your child’s eyes sun safe
With summer now well underway, Specsavers is encouraging parents to incorporate sun-safe habits into their children’s everyday routine.

New Zealand has one of the highest levels of UV in the world, so it’s critical to encourage children to be sun safe and adopt good habits when they’re younger so they set themselves up for life. Long-term exposure to UV can lead to sight-threatening conditions such as macular degeneration, or even cancer.

Children can also absorb more UV into their eyes because their pupils are larger, and the lens of their eyes are clearer. Studies have shown, however, that wearing sunglasses together with a wide-brimmed hat can reduce UV exposure by up to 98 per cent.

Specsavers optometrist Karthi Param urges parents and caregivers to adopt a ‘no sunnies, no play’ rule this summer to help encourage good eye health habits. “As a parent myself, I understand how difficult it can be to get kids to wear – and keep wearing – their sunglasses, so having a simple ‘no sunnies, no play’ rule, just like with seat belts and driving, helps kids to know they can’t go outside and play without their sunglasses. Getting them into the habit of grabbing their sunnies whenever they leave the house is really important.”

Research has found that three in five (61%) of Kiwi children under the age of 16 are not always wearing sunglasses outside during the day in summer. The research, commissioned by Specsavers, revealed that almost all (90%) of children under 16 own a pair of sunglasses, but as many as one in five (17%) may not be fully protecting their eyes as parents admitted the glasses didn’t, or they were unsure if they did, have full UV protection.

“We all need to be aware of UV, even when we’re only spending a short amount of time outside. Making sure you’re protecting your whole body including your eyes and being sun safe particularly from October to March is essential,” says Param.

This includes remembering sunnies not only in well-known high-sun exposure environments like the beach, but also during more incidental times, like in the car and when walking to school. “At Specsavers, Kids Go Free, with a free eye test every two years for any child under the age of 16.”

“Always practise sun-safe habits. The most important thing is to slip, slop, slap, seek and wrap. When you’re outside, slip on sun protective clothing, slop on SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and wrap on sunglasses that provide UV protection,” says Param.

Specsavers are encouraging all Kiwis to be sun smart this summer, and to visit an optometrist for a routine eye test or if they have any concerns about their eyes. All Specsavers stores have hospital-grade technology to help their optometrists detect sight-threatening eye conditions early through an advanced 3D scan of the back of the eye. At Specsavers, Kids Go Free, with a free eye test every two years for any child under the age of 16.

Specsavers’ top tips for keeping your child’s eyes sun safe

1. Start them early – there’s no set age sunglasses are recommended for kids, so it comes down to your child feeling comfortable in their pair. Start them young so as they grow up, they form good habits for life.

2. Fit comes first – wrap-around style sunglasses are usually more comfortable for kids – particularly active ones! This style also offers better protection as they wrap around the face and cover the sides of the eyes.

3. Make sure the sunglasses you choose offer a high level of UVA and UVB protection. Plus, for superior vision in bright light, opt for polarisation. Novelty glasses are often just coloured lenses without adequate protection.

4. Check the UV report as well as the weather report and remember that even on cloudy or cooler days, UV levels can still be high.

5. Get kids’ eyes tested regularly – the best way to instil healthy eye habits for life is to ensure they get a comprehensive eye test every two years.

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