Sunglasses for kids protect eyes from sun damage

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.

VISION & EYE HEALTH

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."

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