In my exam room there are frequent threads of questions from parents who are truly trying to make the best decisions possible for their children. Some of the most frequently asked questions I hear are something similar to… “What would you do if you were faced with this similar situation?” Let me try to address some of the most common scenarios here.
Fact: Humans receive most of the ultraviolet sun damage to their eyes while they are children and this usually does not show its damage within our eyes until old age. Here in Yuma, the sun shines approximately 5,000 hours each year.
Situation: The sun is very bright year round here in Yuma, AZ. Hopefully, our children are spending a fair amount of time outside having lots of fun and gaining experience only the outside world can provide. However, we need to be very cautious that we protect our children from the damaging ultraviolet sun rays that are ever present outside. We need to have our children in sunglasses that offer reliable 100% UV Protection from the damaging sun rays. Sunglasses that do not offer 100% UV protection actually cause more harm to the eyes than wearing nothing at all. They block some of the light and this causes the pupil to enlarge allowing more unfiltered and harmful UV rays to enter the eye and worsen the damaging process. Children should be in 100% UV protection sunglasses.
Fact: There is not an exact age at which people are supposed to begin wearing contact lenses.
Situation: Some parents are quite eager for their children to begin wearing contact lenses. Trying to balance your youth’s age and maturity can prove difficult. Wearing contact lenses is a big responsibility for both the parent and the youth who is a contact lens beginner. Parents need to monitor the contact lens cleaning, wear schedules and disposal rates. The parent also needs to open up communication so that complete care is taken and no harm is done to the youth’s eyes. Contact lens over-wear can be very harmful and detrimental to the overall eye health and to one’s ability to continue to wear contact lenses. As a parent you know the maturity level and the needs of your child and this is a very important piece of the puzzle that only you have.
Fact: There is not one perfect device for correcting vision problems. Glasses are not always better than Contacts AND Contact are not always better than Glasses.
Situation: Older children and especially teens can be very involved in school, community, sports and/or extracurricular activities. Wearing contact lenses opens up one’s peripheral vision and this can make it easier for some to function in their given field. Glasses and sports goggles offer protection that can’t be matched by contacts. Weigh carefully the options and make an appropriate decision with the advice of your Optometrist. Both glasses and contacts play important but yet different roles.
There are many questions and situations that we could run through in this article, however; with school beginning I encourage you to schedule your child’s next eye exam and discuss your concerns with your Optometrist during that exam. Good vision is a tool every student needs.
Written by Dr. Kayle L. Haws