The message about UV and skin cancer tells us to protect our children's skin from harmful UV by keeping them covered up and/or smothering them with suntan lotion. However this does come with a caveat as without some exposure to sunlight our bodies are unable to make Vitamin D which we need for strong teeth and bones click here
For years poor vision in young eyes was blamed on studying or sewing in poor light. Historically oculists recommended patients with weak eyes to improve their diet, avoid constipation and spend more time in the sun. Fashion dictated that in most ages all ages wore hats (usually with brims that would have protected eyes and exposed facial skin from UV ).
In the last few years Australian researchers have suggested that sunshine might indeed have a protective role in preventing the eyeball from elongating to the extent that eyes become myopic or short-sighted. ( The myopic eye focuses light from distant objects in front of the retina instead of on the retina so the eye only 'sees' blurry shapes.) The suggestion is that it is not TV or playing computer games that triggers short-sight but the fact that children's eyes are not being exposed to enough sunshine. Parents are encouraged to get their children too spent a few hours each day playing outside click here .
The down side to this is that other research has suggested that childhood exposure to UV could be linked to eyesight problems in later life. Exposure to UV in childhood has been linked to the development of cataract and macular disease in older eyes.
It has been estimated that by the age of 18 our eyes will have been exposed to 75% of the UV that they will be exposed to in their life time – so by the time we are old enough to worry about health issues it maybe too late.
So if children need to be playing outside but too much UV is harmful, what is a parent to do? The answer to this dilemma is to get children playing outside but ensuring that their skin is protected with light clothing and their eyes protected with peaked hats or sunspecs, especially when the sun is low in the sky ie between the morning hours of 8and 10 and the afternoon hours of 2 and 4.
Throughout our lives we need to look after our own eyes but we also need to protect out children's eyes.