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children Archives | Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center

Sunglasses for kids protect eyes from sun damage

By | Eye Care, Eye Facts

As summertime draws near, ophthalmologists are nudging adults to be sure their children are sporting a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes from sun damage.

The Vision Council issued a report last week that claimed while 73 percent of adults slip on a pair of shades when it’s sunny, only 58 percent of parents offer a pair to their kids. And since many experts believe our eyes get 80 percent of their total lifetime exposure to the sun’s UV rays by age 18, there is plenty of good reason to keep a pair handy for your little one.The report, which polled 10,000 adults in the US, found that more than half of us lose or break our sunglasses every year, and more than a quarter of us never bother to wear them anyway.

THE CUTEST KIDS IN HOLLYWOOD

If you have blue eyes, your eyes are more at risk for UV damage, experts say. But even brown eyes need protecting from the sun’s rays, which can cause a variety of eye problems, including irritation, cataracts, and cancer. In addition, a good pair of sunglasses can protect your eyes from wrinkles and crow’s feet, say experts.

The good news is that it’s never too early, or too late, to start wearing sunglasses, Paul Michelson, an ophthalmologist in California and chairman of the medical advisory arm to The Vision Council, told WebMD.

When it comes to buying sunglasses for both yourself and your child, price isn’t what’s important, he added. Rather, look for shades that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Also, aim for comfort, and a bit of style. “Get sunglasses that you feel you look good in, so you will wear them,” he said.

Also considering you’re likely to break or lose them anyway, it’s a good idea to buy several pairs to keep stored in your car, your purse, or in your sports bag.

When shopping for styles for your kids, a slew of sunglass companies from Ray Ban to Oakley have targeted what kids want with rich colors and creative frames, such as cat-eye or geometric shapes in tortoise or green. Plastic sunglass frames can mimic adult styles, as can miniature wraparounds for a sporty look.

All About Vision, a website devoted to eye care, recommends visiting an optician and having your child fitted for the right pair. You might consider opting for clip-on sunglasses if your child wears prescription eyeglasses — rather than attaching with metal clips, you can purchase ones that magnetically attach.

Kids are also looking for brand name appeal, adds All About Vision. To meet the brand-conscious demand, “major eyewear manufacturers have teamed up with Disney, popular cartoons, and young celebrities to create eyewear and sunglasses made for and appealing specifically to children.”

Your Child’s Eye Exam and Vision Problems Why catching vision problems early is important

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

What Parents Should Know Before They Bring Their Child to an Eye Exam

As children enter kindergarten and elementary school, good vision will become an important part of learning. Here are some key facts parents should know about pediatric eye exams, and the important role they play in a child’s overall health and development.

  1. Vision screening for kids isn’t one and done. Because kids’ vision can change over time, child vision screenings should be done at least once a year. Some vision problems, such as nearsightedness, may not emerge until kids are older, around age 8 or 9, and growth spurts can also contribute to a rapid change in vision.
  2. Many parents may not even be aware that their child is experiencing vision problems until a problem is detected by a vision screening.Vision screenings are important because young children often don’t realize what is or isn’t normal, and are not likely to speak up if they’re not seeing as well as they should.
    1. The signs that your child may be experiencing vision problems can be subtle and can include squinting; tilting or turning the head to see something; eye misalignment (strabismus); complaining of headaches when doing visual tasks; inability to see things that are far away as well as peers/parents; trouble concentrating or fatigue in school; and having a persistent, unusual spot in his eyes in photos taken with a flash (a white spot, for example, instead of the common red eyes), which can indicate nearsightedness or in some cases, a more serious eye disease.
    2. Sitting close to the TV or holding things such as books very close to the face could also indicate a vision problem, but since these are common kid behaviors in all kids, parents should look for these symptoms in combination with the other signs that their child is having trouble seeing well, says Mae Millicent W. Peterseim, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Storm Eye Institute/Medical University of South Carolina.
  1. It is very important to catch vision problems early. Some conditions, such as amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” are most treatable when caught at a young age, and are difficult to fix if it’s diagnosed when a child is older, around age 7 or more. For instance, a child may have poor vision in one eye but see well enough with both so that the problem isn’t detected; only a vision screening that tests a child’s vision one eye at a time would detect such a problem. (Amblyopia is usually treated with glasses and sometimes patching.) “It’s heartbreaking to hear a child say, ‘I thought everyone could see better with one eye,” says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Once a problem is detected, a child should undergo a comprehensive eye exam. If a screening exam indicates a vision problem, a child will be referred to an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a complete eye exam. “At an eye exam, at the eye doctor’s office, the technician will check vision and should do a test of depth perception,” says Dr. Peterseim. The doctor will check to see how well the eyes track something and how well they move and focus on objects (looking at each eye independently by covering one first and then the other). She will also examine the retina and optic nerve and check the eyes for any signs of infection or disease.
  1. There are exciting new screening tests for children. “Newer instrument-based screening works well and can pick up problems in children earlier,” says Dr. Peterseim. “A child looks at the device with a twinkling light and the machine detects abnormalities in a moment, like a camera, so minimal cooperation is needed.” This method is a bit more expensive, but it’s fast, easy, and effective. New AAP policy is recommending instrument-based screenings for children as young as 12 months old, says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Eye exams are particularly important for school-age children. Children learn a lot visually in the classroom, and poor vision can have a negative effect on how a child does in school. That’s why it’s particularly important for school-age children to continue to get regular vision screenings, whether at school or at the doctor’s office.
  3. Parents play an important role in protecting kids’ vision. Follow up on screening test results and/or if you spot any signs your child may have a vision problem. Look for a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist, or a doctor who is comfortable with children and is experienced in caring for kids’ eyes. For instance, kids tend to peek when asked to cover one eye, so a doctor should know to use a patch or cover an eye well during the exam. Doctors should also dilate pupils during an eye exam. “It is important that the child have drops to dilate the pupils to determine if he really needs glasses,” says Dr. Peterseim. “Some doctors skip this step. If your child’s eye doctor doesn’t do this, a parent should ask, or go somewhere else.”

Does My Child Really Need Sunglasses?

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Latest Heritage News

Children’s Sunglasses: Choosing the Best Sun Protection for Kids’ Eyes

Do children really need sunglasses? According to most eye doctors and researchers, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and blue light (also called high-energy visible, or HEV, light) from sunlight appear to increase the risk of multiple age-related eye problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Researchers say the more exposure you’ve had to the sun’s harmful UV and HEV rays during your lifetime, the more at risk you may be for these sight-threatening conditions.


The best children’s sunglasses block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays and have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses.

Because children tend to spend more time outdoors than most adults, some experts say nearly half of a person’s lifetime exposure to ultraviolet radiation can take place by age 18. (Other research cited by The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests the amount of lifetime exposure to UV radiation sustained by age 18 is less than 25 percent.)

Also, children are more susceptible to damage to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye from UV rays because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of blocking UV than an adult lens, enabling more of this harmful radiation to penetrate deep into the eye.

And nearly all high-energy blue light reaches the retinas of children and adults alike, because the corneaand lens of the human eye are not capable of absorbing these rays, which have been shown to damage photosensitive cells of the retina in laboratory studies.

These factors make it very important for all children, even infants, to wear UV- and HEV-blocking sunglasses anytime they are outdoors in daylight hours. This is true even on cloudy and overcast days, because most UV rays (which are invisible) and some HEV rays can penetrate cloud cover.

By investing in quality children’s sunglasses, you are helping your kids enjoy a lifetime of good vision.

Children’s Sunglasses and UV Protection

According to Prevent Blindness America, children’s sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of both types of untraviolet rays: UVA and UVB.

Choco Grape sunglasses for girls, by Eyes Cream Shades.
You don’t have to spend a lot to get high-quality sunglasses for your kids. Shown here is the Choco Grape style in the Bling Collection by Eyes Cream Shades.

UVA is lower-energy ultraviolet radiation that can penetrate skin and eyes more deeply. UVA rays tan your skin, but they also cause your skin to wrinkle and show other signs of “photo-aging.” And because UVA rays can penetrate the eye, they have been implicated in the development of both cataracts and macular degeneration.

UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of solar UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

UVB is high-energy ultraviolet radiation that causes your skin to burn. The cornea blocks most UVB rays from entering the eye, protecting internal eye tissues from these high-energy rays. But overexposure to UV light can cause a serious and painful “sunburn” of the cornea called photokeratitis, which can cause a temporary loss of vision that is commonly called “snow blindness.”

SEE ALSO: Should Your Teen Wear Contacts? Click here to learn more >

In addition to causing eye problems, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer of the face, including the delicate skin of the eyelids and the area around the eyes. UV exposure also has been associated with growths on the surface of the eye called pingueculae and pterygia.

Be wary of children’s sunglasses with labels that say the lenses, “block UV rays,” but don’t specify the actual percentage of UV radiation the lenses absorb. In some cases, your eye care practitioner can use an optical instrument to determine the exact level of UV protection your child’s sunglasses provide.

Also, be aware that UV radiation penetrates clouds. Encourage your kids to wear their sunglasses even on overcast days to protect their eyes.

Recommended Features of Children’s Sunglasses

In addition to having lenses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and a significant amount of potentially harmful blue light, most eye doctors recommend children’s sunglasses also have these desirable features:

  • Impact-resistant lenses. The best lenses for children’s sunglasses are made of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate lenses are up to 10 times more impact-resistant than standard plastic lenses for superior eye protection during sports and other play. Polycarbonate lenses also are lighter than glass or standard plastic lenses for greater wearing comfort.
  • Large, close-fitting frame. For the best protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and to keep dust and other debris from getting in your child’s eyes, a relatively large yet close-fitting frame is the best design for children’s sunglasses.
  • “Unbreakable” frame material. Look for children’s sunglasses that have flexible frames to avoid breakage and potential eye or facial injury from a frame that snaps upon impact.
  • Spring hinges. Hinges that extend beyond 90 degrees and have a spring action to keep the fit of the frame snug will decrease the risk of your child’s sunglasses falling off or getting damaged during sports and other play.
  • An elastic band. An elastic band that attaches to the end of each of the frame’s earpieces can help prevent loss or damage to children’s sunglasses. Choices include a close-fitting band to keep the frame snugly attached to the head during active sports or a looser-fitting strap to allow your child to remove his or her sunglasses yet keep them hanging from the neck for easy on-and-off use. However, avoid the use of a band or cord that might pose a choking risk for an unattended infant or toddler.

For superior UV protection, it’s a good idea for kids to wear a wide-brimmed hat as well as sunglasses when spending a lot of time outdoors on sunny days. Researchers say a hat that shades the eyes and face can cut the amount of UV exposure in half. And don’t forget the sunscreen, too!

Beware of Cheap Sunglasses for Children

Many inexpensive children’s sunglasses provide excellent UV protection. This is especially true if they include polycarbonate lenses, because the polycarbonate lens material blocks 100 percent of UV rays without the need for added lens filters or coatings.

But cheap sunglasses for kids can pose other risks. In the recent past, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has required the recall of several brands of cheap sunglasses for children that had surface paint containing unacceptable levels of lead. And the frames, hinges and lenses of cheap children’s sunglasses often are not as durable as the components of quality sunglasses for children.

For your child’s safety and to get the best quality children’s eyewear with the best warranty, visit us at Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center.