Optical Prism July 2019 - Page 10

Vision & Voice Why is it especially important for children to protect their eyes from the sun’s rays while outdoors? “Many people don’t know that the sun is the largest singular source of harmful blue light, emitting over 100 times the intensity of electronic devices and screens. Not only does a child’s eye let in six times the UV radiation as an adult’s eye, but their crystalline lens has not developed or yellowed, allowing more blue light to reach the retina. As long-term exposure to harmful blue light and UV radiation has been linked to the eventual development of serious eye conditions, it’s especially important for children to protect their eyes when outdoors.” Isabelle Tremblay-Dawson, Business development director, Transitions. “Most of the damage that occurs in the eyes as a result of UV rays is from a person’s cumulative exposure; that is the total number of sun exposure hours over their lifetime. Children have larger pupils and clearer lenses allowing up to 70 per cent more UV light to enter the eyes than an adult in the same situation, making it more important to protect young eyes.” Dr. Kirsten North, Canadian Association of Optometrists policy consultant. 8 Optical Prism | July 2019 “It’s especially important for children to protect their eyes while outdoors because they are often outside for longer periods of time than adults, which increases their exposure time, and subsequently, their risk. Their natural lens inside their eye also allows more harmful ultraviolet (UV) and blue light to reach the retina where it may begin to cause damage.” Dr. Justin Bazan, Optometrist and medical adviser to The Vision Council. “ “Sun protection for children is actually more important than it is for adults. While our eyes have some natural defences to UV radiation, those defences are not fully developed in children, which means more UV light hits the retina with the same exposure. Studies indicate that eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration are more likely in people with higher lifetime sun exposure. One of the more interesting statistics is that 50 per cent of our lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. Sunglasses should specifically say they block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light. For children who cannot wear sunglasses, a hat offers some protection.” Dr. Aaron Patel, Alberta Association of Optometrists, Chair of the Children’s Vision Committee.