Today’s Frame Friday is going to be a little different.  I wanted to stay with the theme of sun protection for your eyes with next Wednesday being National Sunglasses Day.  One of the most forgotten ages for sun protection for the eyes is in infants and toddlers.  On a hot summer day, I see parent’s putting suntan lotion all over the skin, but then, when it comes to protecting their child’s eyes, most don’t even give any thought to it.  I understand it’s a lot easier to put suntan lotion on than it is to get the infant or toddler to keep a pair of sunglasses on, but I want to talk about the importance of it as well as talk about another obstacle faced, getting a pair that fits!

When my friend’s son was born, I wanted to get him a good pair of sunglasses.  I ordered “infant” size ready-made sunglasses and they were horrible.  When he was in his car seat, the pressure from the seat pushed them off his head.  I ordered another pair from a different company and while they were better in the car seat, they still slid off him when we picked him up.

Pre-made ones falling off at the dog park, I'm sporting MyMaui Maui Jim's with Neutral Grey bi-gradient lenses
Pre-made ones falling off at the dog park, I’m sporting MyMaui Maui Jim’s with Neutral Grey bi-gradient lenses

I had worked with Dilli Dalli frames for young children who needed prescription glasses, so I decided to custom make a pair of sunglasses.  We ordered the frame in and then I sent them to the lab to have plano (no prescription) polarized lenses made in them.  I added the scratch coating to give them a two-year warranty but, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t recommend it for an infant because he / she is going to grow out of them before they can scratch them unless you plan on having more children and want to use them for the other infants, I would just do the plano polarized lenses.

First Pair Already too Small - he looks like a little professor!
First Pair Already too Small – he looks like a little professor!

I will admit, I have already had to order a second, larger pair for him and I did put the scratch coat on them because I figured he would be able to wear them a little bit longer.

Dilli Dalli frames come in a variety of sizes from infant to their newly expanded sizing which extends to some 3 and 4 year olds.

DILLI DALLI MUD SLIDE
DILLI DALLI MUD SLIDE – a new extended size version Photo Credit: Clearvision Optical

You can see the variety of frames, the shapes, and the sizes by clicking here.  The Dilli Dalli frames are soft and comfortable.  When you first put them on the infant or toddler, they won’t like them.  They will pull them off, they will want to play with them.  The best advice I can give any parent or grandparent is to put them on OUTSIDE so the world doesn’t look too dark for the child and then immediately distract them with something to keep their hands busy.  The more they wear them, the better they will get used to them, to the point they will know, if the sunglasses are going on, then they are going outside!  Parent’s of children who have to wear glasses for vision correction go through it all of the time, having to teach their child to leave their glasses on.  It is possible, it just takes some time and some patience.

Now let’s talk about WHY  a good quality pair of sunglasses are so important.  Let’s start with suntan lotion.  WHY do you put suntan lotion on your child(ren)?  Why do you put it on yourself?  Most people say it’s because they know it’s not healthy for the skin to burn.  They want to try to minimize their exposure to the sun.  They want to minimize their chances of getting skin cancer.  The sun damages the eyes AND the skin around the eyes.  Plain and simple.  The same UV damaging your arms and legs is doing the same amount of damage, if not more, to your eyes.  The difference is you don’t always feel the sunburn on your eyes the way you do on your skin and it is not reversible.  It is the beginning of long term damage to the eyes.

YourSightMatters breaks down some of the harmful effects of the sun

  • Photokeratitis— Also known as sunburn of the eye or “snow blindness.” Photokeratitis can cause loss of vision for up to 48 hours.
  • Cataracts— This progressive clouding of the lens of the eye can cause slow vision loss.
  • Pterygium— Commonly known as “surfer’s eye,” this condition causes a growth (not cancerous) on the eye’s surface that can itch, swell and be bothersome. Surgery may be necessary to remove it, but the growth can return.
  • Age-related macular degeneration— UV rays can damage the macula of the eye, which can blur vision and dull colors.
  • Cancer— UV rays can cause cancer of the eye, eyelid or skin

Children with blue eyes, or lighter color eyes, are more susceptible to the sun’s UV than a child with darker eyes, but all eyes can be affected.

Another thing to take into consideration is children spend a lot more time looking up into the sun as they talk to adults or older children than adults do.  Studies have shown half of the lifetime sun exposure occurs in the first twenty years of life. Children are generally outdoors much more than adults.  Many times parents think hats solve the problem of the sun and it doesn’t.  While it may protect somewhat from directly above, it doesn’t take into count the time looking up, as well as the reflected UV from water, sand or concrete.

In the end, it is important for everyone to wear quality polarized lenses when outside.  Just like our skin, the sun doesn’t always have to be completely visible to cause damage.  Teaching a child the importance of sun protection in all factors at a young age will help protect them throughout their lives.

Have a great weekend everyone and stay sun safe! 🤓

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