Children, Teens at Greater Risk Than Adults of Exposure to Damaging UV
A Leading Eye Care Professional Says Sunglasses Are Not Enough; Offers Advice on Comprehensive UV Protection for Eyes
Jacksonville, FL . – Although both adults and children are subject to the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, younger eyes are more susceptible to exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. A leading eye care professional notes that glasses with a UV-blocking coating and sunglasses do not offer complete protection, and advise parents also to consider UV-blocking contact lenses for children who need vision correction to fill in some of the UV blocking gaps left by these more traditional means.
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.
“Short-term damage to the eyes is hard to notice, but over the long-term the sun can cause irreversible harm to all structures of the eye and surrounding tissue that are left unprotected or under-protected,” says Christine W. Sindt, OD, FAAO, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, University of Iowa. “The effects of UV radiation are cumulative over a person’s lifetime, so exposure may contribute to the development of various ocular disorders including age-related cataract.
“These conditions may not manifest for years at which point the damage is already done and it is too late to reverse the effects of the sun,” adds Dr.Sindt “That’s why it is important to get maximum protection beginning in childhood. The greatest measure of UV protection can be achieved with a combination of UV-absorbing sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, and UV-blocking contact lenses.”
Why Sunglasses Alone Are Not Enough
While most sunglasses can help block UV rays that enter through the lenses, most frame styles do not prevent unfiltered rays from reaching the eyes from the sides, top, and/or bottom of the glasses. “Because of this, some sunglasses block as little as 50 percent of all UV radiation from reaching the eyes,” explains Dr. Sindt. Similarly, hats with brims offer no protection from UV rays reflected up from surfaces such as pavement, sand, and water.
Added Protection for Contact Lens Wearers
UV-blocking contact lenses offer unique protection against the direct and reflected rays that pass through the cornea into the eye, and are not blocked by sunglasses or hats. “This provides contact lens wearers with an important added measure of protection,” says Dr.Sindt.
However, not all contact lenses offer UV protection, and, of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels. Among contact lens brands, only ACUVUE® ADVANCE®, ACUVUE® ADVANCE® for ASTIGMATISM, and ACUVUE® OASYS™ Contact Lens brands carry the Seals of Acceptance for Ultraviolet Absorbing Contact Lenses from both the American Optometric Association and World Council of Optometry’s Commissions on Ophthalmic Standards. The lenses are the only ones to offer the highest level of UV-blocking†* available, blocking more than 90 percent of UVA rays and 99 percent of UVB rays that reach the lens. On average, contact lenses without UV blocking block approximately 10% of UV-A radiation and 30% of UV-B radiation.
Although UV-blocking contact lenses provide important added protection for patients, they should not be viewed as a stand-alone solution. “Contact lenses should always be worn in conjunction with high-quality UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat,” says Dr.Sindt.
Can children wear contacts?
There is no minimum age requirement for contact lenses. According to the Contact Lens In Pediatrics (CLIP) study, the first clinical investigation to compare children under 12 years of age and teens using silicone hydrogel contact lenses, researchers report that children as young as eight years old who need refractive error correction are as capable as teenagers at wearing and caring for soft contact lenses.
“Contact lenses often provide a more convenient mode of correction for young wearers,” says Dr.Sindt. “Contacts that provide protection from UV-radiation offer a value-added benefit that can help keep eyes vital and healthy.”
Doctors will typically evaluate a child’s maturity and level of parental support in deciding whether a child is ready for contact lenses.
ACUVUE® ADVANCE® Brand Contact Lenses with HYDRACLEAR®, ACUVUE® ADVANCE® for ASTIGMATISM and ACUVUE® OASYS™ Brand Contact Lenses with HYDRACLEAR® PLUS are indicated for daily wear vision correction. ACUVUE® OASYS™ may also be worn for up to 6 consecutive nights/7 days of extended wear as recommended by an eye care professional. Contact lenses should not be worn for longer periods than recommended by an eye care professional. As with all contact lenses, eye problems, including corneal ulcers, can develop. Some wearers may also experience mild irritation, itching or discomfort. Lenses should not be worn if the wearer has an eye infection or experiences eye discomfort, excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. If these conditions occur, the wearer should contact their eye care professional. Consult the patient information guide available from your doctor for complete information.
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