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Mirror, 27 June 2019

You may have read a recent article highlighting parents concern for their children’s eyesight at school. The Mirror article discussed a study developed to raise awareness amongst parents on the importance of their child wearing sunglasses not just on holiday, but during the midday and afternoon sun at school.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists, said: “I would welcome greater support and encouragement for children to wear sunglasses when playing outside at school or nursery on bright high UV index days. UV light is harmful to some structures of eye and the effects of UV on the eye are cumulative so use throughout childhood on bright days is important. Children would be best served by using sunglasses (at any time) recommended, fitted and provided by their own optometrist or from a reputable source chosen with their parents.

“Despite the potential benefits of UV protection, a compulsory school uniform sunglasses may result in unintended consequences. Optometrists encourage children at risk of short-sightedness (myopia) to adopt an active lifestyle, involving spending time outdoors as that does appear to be helpful in preventing the onset of myopia. We do not currently know the role of UV light in preventing this, so although children should be encouraged to use sunglasses on bright high UV index days, overuse should be avoided.

“Children should not be prevented from wearing sunglasses at schools or nurseries it should be a matter of personal choice. When choosing sunglasses it is important to ensure they have a CE mark and are purchased from a reputable source. Counterfeit sunglasses may not provide adequate protection. The CE mark will ensure they meet the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1-2013. Sunglasses should be dark enough to ensure it is comfortable to see in the bright light without squinting, not too dark, not too light. Choosing the right colour of tint is also an important consideration; I would recommend choosing neutral shades such as grey or brown. Colourful shades like red or blue can alter how well you can see certain colours, which may make viewing traffic lights more difficult and generally make your child’s vision feel less comfortable.”

July 3, 2019