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Teach Your Children Eye Protection | Long Island Eye Doctor

Teach Your Children Eye Protection
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

I was out with my wife and granddaughter yesterday.  We spent a great day walking on the Long Beach boardwalk and having lunch.  It was extremely hot and bright.  Saige is 17 months old and like every child, she is 4 times as susceptible to eye damage from the sun as an adult.  This is why we insist on having her wear sunglasses and a hat while outdoors.  Even in the shade, ultraviolet damage can occur to the eyes as well as the skin. Like all kids, she pulls the sunglasses off, but unlike all adults, we do not let her get away with it.  We are teaching her that if grandma and grandpa wear sunglasses, she must also wear them. Your children’s eye protection is of utmost importance and we will explain why in more detail.

Why is a child more prone to eye damage?

The answer is simple.  A healthy child is born with clear eyes…. Meaning that all of the structures from the front of the eye to the back of the eye are crystal clear.  There are no cataracts or cloudiness to block any of the harmful sun’s rays from reaching the back of the eyes.  In addition, the pupils of a child’s eyes are usually much larger than the pupils of an adult, allowing for more harmful light to reach the inner eye.

AND, it’s not only the inner eye we want to protect.  The outside surface of the eyes, the cornea and conjunctiva, can be affected by UV light too.  Have you ever seen a person who has what looks like a yellow skin on the white of the eye?  This is called a pinguecula and is caused by a lifetime exposure to the sun.   Another growth called a pterygium can grow onto the clear cornea and can permanently affect vision.

Protection is mandatory.  The ozone layer is depleted.  More ultraviolet light is reaching our skin and our eyes and if we are not proactive with protection, our grandchildren will potentially lose sight at an earlier age than their grandparents.

We have so much more knowledge on this topic today.  The difficult part is teaching the parents, students, teachers and even medical doctors to understand all the information available so that we can protect our future generation from blindness.

Teach your children eye protection.  They will be so glad you did once they can understand themselves. One of the best ways to understand how your children’s eyes are is to get an eye exam for your children

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

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