During the start of sunny days in spring and long, hot summer months, we parents slather our children in sunscreen and fill their beach bags with hats, umbrellas and long-sleeved shirts in an ongoing effort to protect them from the sun's harmful rays. But many parents are forgetting a key weapon in their arsenal -- sunglasses. Ongoing, unchecked exposure to the sun can cause severe eye discoloration as our children grow older, which can be painful and lead to a decrease in confidence and quality of life.
Sun damage is the main cause of redness, discoloration or brownish spots in the whites of the eyes and it begins in childhood. By simply insisting that your children wear UV-protected sunglasses, you can drastically reduce the threat of a lifetime spent with red, discolored eyes. They will thank you years later.
I noticed the other day that my daughters are some of the only kids at their school who wear sunglasses on a daily basis. I encourage all parents to look into proper eye protection for their children as summer approaches, and have compiled a list of tips to help you take great care of you and your children's eyes this summer.
1) Wear sunglasses! UV rays are terrible for your eyes; they can burn your corneas and can lead to development of cataracts. Buy sunglasses that will protect you from 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB lights. Even maybe consider using wraparound sunglasses to stop the UV rays from entering from the sides of the frame.
2) Wear your swim goggles! When swimming in the pool during a hot summer day, remember to wear your swim goggles. Whether you're just playing in the pool or swimming for sport, wear goggles to protect your eyes from waterborne bacteria and swimming pool chemicals.
3) Quit smoking! According to a study from the National Eye Institute, smoking has been linked to an increased risk of several eye diseases that can lead to blindness, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage. Source:
4) Wash your eyes! A great way to keep your eyes healthy is to wash your eyes. As simple as it seems, you would be amazed at how few times it happens. Remembering your mother as she says "rinse it out" when you have something in it is just the beginning. Refreshing your eyes with cold running water cleans out particles that may linger around them after being in the wind. Also, using a generous drop of a good quality artificial tear before bedtime is like washing your face or taking a shower.
5) Eat good sources of beta-carotene! Many people know that carrots are good for your eyes. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. The deep-colored fruits and vegetables are typically good sources of beta-carotene and contain many carotenoids (plant pigments). Beta-carotene and certain carotenoids are just a handful of the array of nutrients linked to good eye health. For a beta-carotene boost, choose apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach, papaya, red bell pepper, cantaloupe, winter squash and romaine lettuce.
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