Disclosure: At BlogHer’13, I attended an event sponsored by The Vision Council, and received sun protection items, including sunglasses for my children and me. I was not compensated for this post. All of the opinions in the post are mine.
Now that school is back in session, I’m realizing summer is over. Although I know, according to the calendar, that those of us in the US can officially embrace the season until September 22, I’m already thinking about fall.
Before I trade in my flip flops and shorts for comfy sweaters and pumpkin lattes, though, our family has been trying to cram in as much of the summer season as possible, and that included a last visit to our town pool earlier this week. While helping my four-year-old daughter get dressed in her favorite bathing suit—a purple flowered one-piece from Target—I realized she had tan lines from the last time she wore it. I don’t let her wear the one-piece often, preferring that she bundle up in sun protection garb. But she loves that suit and so I let her put it on a few times this season. For someone else, those lines would be a byproduct of a happy summer; for me, though, they are a little failure.
I’m the person who is pale all summer long—and I aim for my kids to be, too. I’m bundled up at the beach. I’m the one who automatically lectures about wearing sunblock to coworkers and friends. The lecturing is a habit I can’t break, and while I recognize my preaching doesn’t endear me to anyone, it comes from a place of love—and fear.
The fear comes from loss: my father passed away 12 years ago from melanoma. That, combined with my fair skin, places me, and my children, at a higher risk for skin cancer. We, as a result, are diligent about applying sunblock, wearing sun shirts while swimming, and putting on the hats, especially on super sunny days.
But we make mistakes, or, in the case of my daughter’s suntan lines, let our diligence slip. Recently, I learned of yet another sun protection step that I was missing: safeguarding our eyes from ultraviolet, or UV, radiation.
Eye protection is so critical because UV rays from the sun can cause eye damage, including cataracts, cancer of the eye and surrounding skin, photokeratitis, and more. Additionally, UV radiation is present all year, and it can be even more dangerous in the non-summer months when people stop wearing sun protection.
I am good about wearing my sunglasses—I am trying very hard to prevent more wrinkles!—but I am not at all consistent about getting the kids to wear them.
While at BlogHer’13 this summer, I attended a session sponsored by The Vision Council, an association of manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry that is working to educate people about the need for sun protection for our eyes. The Council shared a number of eye protection tips that seemed so obvious, including wear sunglasses all year round. But I’m one of those people who hadn’t been complying! And, a recent research study from The Council indicated that most Americans are inconsistent about protecting their eyes, too. So, I’m sharing the following sunglass tips in the hopes they will help you as well:
- Wear sunglasses!
- Purchase sunglasses from a credible source, such as an eyewear retailer, drug store, or retail store. Be aware of vendors who cannot guarantee the UV protection of their product.
- Make sure your sunglasses offer protection from UVA and UVB rays, two types of radiation that can damage eyes.
- Keep your sunglasses in a protective carrying case, since even a small scratch in the lenses can lead to UV radiation damage.
- Keep your sunglasses in your purse or near your keys so you remember to take them when you leave in the morning.
- Keep an extra pair in your car or desk drawer at work, just in case you forget them at home.
After reading up on eye damage caused by the sun, I gathered together all of our sunglasses, and realized the kids had several pairs each—which just goes to show I had good intentions. I had planned to have them wear sunglasses, but just didn’t follow through. So, it’s my new goal: get them to wear sunglasses to protect their little eyes. And keep putting on the sunblock. All.year.round.