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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Sunglasses for Kids?

Oct 28, 2016 12:23PM ● By Dr. Jeff Anshel

Kids are not just small adults; they are different in so many ways, and that includes their eyes.

        Recent research has shown that many of the conditions older adults develop are a result of an accumulation of insults that we get throughout our entire lifetime. For instance, it has been shown that lutein and zeaxanthin—nutrients important in retinal health—are found in breast milk, thus well-supplied for the first few years of life. However, young teens don’t eat the “greens” needed to maintain those levels and then we find macular generation patients (typically over 50 years old) have low levels of lutein in their retinas. This shows that we should be monitoring levels of lutein throughout our lifetime.

        Similarly, the UV light that can create cataracts is accumulated in the lens throughout our lifetime. Most parents are well-aware of putting sunscreen on their kids who are out in the sun. However, most are unaware that their children’s eyes are receiving “massive doses” of UV light on just one trip to the beach.

Beating the Blue Light Blues

The light that reaches the retina is called visible light but it’s the blue light that has the highest frequency. This light has been shown to cause damage to the retina when accumulated throughout our lifetime. Studies have confirmed that some levels of blue light are dangerous and can affect us in several ways.

        One of these concerns—especially for eye care providers—is the accumulation of high energy blue light in the rods and cones of the retina. Since these cells are the most highly active cells in the body, they are more likely to be affected by the constant barrage of high intensity light. Some sources claim that the blue light coming from digital displays can cause significant harm but it’s more likely that the sun is the real culprit. Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement.

Dr. Jeff Anshel, Optometrist, is the owner of E Street Eyes in Encinitas. For more information, call 760-931-1390, email [email protected] or visit

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