The Effect of Sunlight on Children’s Eyes: The Dangers and Benefits

children wearing sunglasses
Image by Aka Kath

According to the Global Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care survey by The Vision Care Institute, 85% of the Americans surveyed understand that UV rays can damage the eyes.  Still, only about 65% of those people say they usually wear sunglasses.

When it comes to their kids, 78% of these same American respondents say that they make sure to apply sunblock to their children’s skin, but less than 40% think to have their children wear sunglasses.

“These gaps in vision care attitudes and behavior are of great concern, particularly when it comes to children” Christine W. Sindt, OD, FAAO, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, University of Iowa, tells Medical News Today. The article goes on to say “Compared to their parents, children have larger pupils (allowing more light into their eyes), clearer lenses, and are outside without eye protection much more frequently and for longer periods than most adults. It is estimated that 80 percent of lifetime exposure to UV occurs by age 18 and that children’s annual dose of UV radiation is three times that of adults.”

That said, it is important to remember that kids are not just little cataracts patients who need to hide behind dark glasses.  They need some unprotected exposure to sunlight as well.

According to an Australian study, sunlight is essential to keeping children from developing myopia. Exposure to daylight appears to play a critical role in limiting the growth of the eyeball, which is responsible for myopia or short-sightedness.