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Parents not protecting children's eyes

Three out of four parents are failing to do enough to protect their children's eyesight in the sun, new research shows.

In a survey carried out by the College of Optometrists, 76% of parents admit their child does not always wear sunglasses in bright sunlight.

This is despite 76% saying they apply sun cream to their child to protect them.

The college said youngsters needed sunglasses with UV protection, and added that those with light-coloured eyes were most at risk.

In the survey of 2,000 parents, 29% said they never buy sunglasses for their children. Of those that did, 25% tended to buy a reputable brand, while 46% chose to put price before levels of protection.

Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric adviser at the College of Optometrists, said: "I am shocked to see that so many parents aren't ensuring that their child's eyes are protected in the sun, and am equally astounded to see that of those who do, many are opting for 'cheap and cheerful' over quality".

Conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have been linked to too much exposure to the sun.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

College of Optometrists

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I don’t believe parents carry all of the burden for ‘failing’ here. The industry – I’m included – plays a big role for lack of conviction and poor articulation concerning the threat of sunlight exposure to our vision. The lens of the child is different from the lens of the adult. As we age, the lens of our eye becomes yellow and then brown. This tint (also called ‘ocular lens pigment’ – or OLP) causes an elimination of all of the UV and a selective reduction of the high energy visible, violet and blue light. Science has already shown that the high energy visible (HEV) light can increase the risks of macular degeneration. Children do not yet have the protection from OLP in the lens of their eyes. That’s why their vision is at particular risk for both cataracts and macular degeneration. Good sunglasses should eliminate all of the UV and also reduce the levels of HEV – especially for children whose lens is crystal clear and who therefore receive an early strong dose of HEV light as well as more UV" - Jim Gallas, USA