As you know, Boots Opticians sponsored me to go to BritMums Live.
As part of the deal, I attended a briefing meeting when I arrived in London. I thought it would be a bit of free breakfast and some chatting, no big deal. What actually happened is that I left thinking "must buy S some proper sunglasses!"
I don't know about you, but as a parent I'm slightly obsessed with making sure S is wearing a sun hat and sun cream before we go anywhere. Nursery are the same, and have a large stock of spare hats and sun cream. All of the children are slathered in sun cream before they go outside to play, and they all know they have to wear a hat if they want to play outside.
I did buy S some sunglasses, but they're more of an optional accessory - and she usually opts to snap them. We're on our third pair this Summer! Plus, they were a cheap pair from a kidswear shop. While we were talking to the ladies from Boots Opticians, they mentioned that the best thing to look for was a sticker on the glasses saying they offered "100% protection." Did S's glasses have that sticker? I remember pulling a sticker off the lenses before she put them on, but I've no idea what it said...
What I realised by attending the Boots Opticians session was that it's just as important to protect your eyes from the sun, as your skin. In fact, we're always being told our skin needs a little sunlight in order to maintain vitamin D levels; not so with our eyes. There is no advantage to having our eyes exposed to UV light, and around three million people go blind from conditions linked to prolonged UV light exposure every year.
UV light damaging your eyes is one of those things we don't know about, but the minute it's mentioned you say "oh yeah, of course!"
Another thing it's really important to bear in mind is that the darkness of the glasses does not equate to how well they protect your eyes. In fact, you can now get clear contact lenses that offer UV protection. This is why cheap kids' sunglasses (and adult ones for that matter) can be a bad thing; we think we're protecting our eyes, but really all we're doing is keeping out the brightness. The UV rays still get in, and still cause damage.
According to the World Health Organisation, UV damage is the most preventable factor of developing cataracts, and around 10% of all skin cancers affect the eyes. UV exposure also increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is the UK's leading cause of blindness.
Learning all of this meant that the day after BritMums Live, I took S to Boots, shopping for some proper sunglasses. We spent a good twenty minutes or so, trying on all the different sunglasses; her head is quite small though so in the end the choice was quite limited. What we ended up with was this:
Now we have the winning combination of sunglasses and sun hat to stop those pesky UV rays from getting into my little pumpkin's eyes (yes, I really do call her that).
Thank you, Boots Opticians, for showing me the light, and then putting some UV filters over it!