Sunglasses, Children and My Mom’s Cataracts

child_sunglassesI put sunglasses on my child for the first time yesterday. My little boy is almost four, and although he has worn sunglasses playing around, and we have had a pair of child sunglasses rolling around the house for quite some time, I have never purposefully put sunglasses on him in order to protect his eyesight/vision. Yesterday I did.

I have to say part of my aversion of putting sunglasses on him is the way that he looks when wearing the eye protection- probably the worst reason not to do something. But, I think he looks ridiculous. He looks like he is playing dress up in some weird way, and although I typically have no issue with strange apparel on my children (pajamas are just fine for trips to the store and clothing is often optional in the backyard), for some reason, sunglasses on children look out of place.

But here are the facts: 80 percent of people’s exposure to UV rays in their lifetime occurs before the age of 18. This is because the lenses of children’s eyes are more transparent than those of adults and so they are more sensitive to UV rays. Unfortunately, most parents, like me, do not place a high priority on this protection because studies show that only 50 percent of children today own or wear sunglasses.

Here’s the rub: my mother has had cataract surgery on both of her eyes and my father has glaucoma. Not that these eye conditions can be solved with a pair of sunglasses.  But as a parent, I have a responsibility to protect my child from the harm that I can, and that includes his vision. June 27 is National Sunglasses Day, why not take this opportunity to do something for you and your family and start wearing eye protection.


Sara Sweitzer is a mother, writer and contributor to