Teens are generally more open to wearing sunglasses because, if nothing else, they appreciate the glamor. But what about younger kids? Do they need to wear sunglasses?

“Little kids’ pupils are bigger than adults, so more light is getting in,” said Dr. Judith Bianchi Bowser, director of Optometry for Geisinger. “Young kids really need sunglasses the most.”

“Sunglasses are important for all ages, and children are no exception,” agreed Dr. G. William Orren, III, optometrist at The Eye Center of Central PA, in Northumberland and Mifflinburg. “The protection provided during outdoor activities is essential in promoting ocular development. Blue-eyed individuals are more susceptible, but the risk is present for all.”

One option to make sun protection less cumbersome for kids who already wear glasses is photochromic lenses, like Transitions, Orren said.

“These lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions, thus not requiring a separate pair of glasses,” he said.

The lens of a child’s eye allows 70 percent more UV rays to enter it than an adult’s eye lens, said Dr. David Cute, ophthalmologist, UPMC in North Central Pa.

Acknowledging that children may not want to wear sunglasses, he suggested some alternatives to help reduce sun exposure:

  • Wear a hat. Broad-brim hats can help reduce the amount of UV radiation that reaches a child’s eyes.
  • Avoid peak sun hours.

“It’s important to avoid or minimize the amount of time children may be exposed to sunlight unprotected, especially during the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest,” Cute said.

  • Use stroller covers for your child’s stroller. If your child is still in a stroller, use a cover to help block direct sun exposure. Just be sure it is labeled to offer UV protection.
  • Beware of cloudy and snowy days.

“There is no such thing as a cloudy day for UV rays,” Cute said. “These harmful beams of light can still penetrate clouds. It’s important to be conscious of sun protection all year round, even in cloudy and snowy weather.”

Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at CindyOHerman@gmail.com

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