You may have seen in the news recently a push to make sunglass wear compulsory for kids in school.
For a number of years a ‘no hat, no play’ rule has been in place in our schools and daycare centres. For my children, this has led to a few lunchtimes spent under cover instead of out playing with their mates due to a misplaced hat.
Recently there has been some discussion about whether this rule should be extended to sunglasses.
We know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is damaging to the sensitive surfaces of the eye. It is thought to contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration, and is known to cause damage to the front of the eye including pterygiums and pingueculae (growths on the front surface of the eye)
So, surely compulsory sunglass wear is a no-brainer… or is it?
Unfortunately, when it comes to kids, it is never that simple.
Some things to consider;
- Tints can create a barrier to communication with teachers and other children
- Lenses get dirty and smeary. Children are often not capable or just not willing to clean them.
- Cost to purchase and replace when lost or damaged can be significant, especially if sunglasses become a “must have” fashion item at school.
- Over-use of sunglasses could lead to habituation with reduced tolerance to glare and subsequent dependency on tinted lenses.
- What happens if the sky darkens during the recess period? Do the sunglasses go in the case? Where is the case kept? What about during winter when sunlight hours and intensity are reduced?
- It is often difficult to establish and maintain a comfortable frame fit, especially for small faces and during rapid growth spurts.
- Wide brim hats reduce the UV exposure to the eye by about 50%.
- Shade, bitumen and grass are less reflective and reduce glare in playgrounds.
So, although sunglasses should be worn at any age when exposed to prolonged amounts of sunlight (for example, a summers day at the beach or the lake), making it a compulsory policy in schools may be a step too far.
Written by Justin Clunas