Expert tips on shades and ticks…for your kids

We’re getting the message on kids and sunscreen; don’t leave the house without it. But what about protecting their eyes? While we toss on sunglasses as we head out the door, our kids often don’t.

Public health groups like the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend that kids should wear sunglasses with 100 percent protection from ultraviolet rays. But a recent survey conducted by the Opticians Council of Canada revealed that 84 percent of Canadians apply sunscreen while only 12 percent said they wear sunglasses.

One reason for this gap may be that a sunburn is a cringe-worthy reminder that you or your child didn’t apply enough sunscreen on a particular day. Eye damage caused by the sun’s rays take much longer to show up, but it can increase the chance of developing cataracts, which cloud the eye and blur vision. The sun’s rays can also damage the retina, the lining of the eye crucial to vision.

Kids more at risk
What’s more, children are more at risk from damaging UV rays because the lens in their eyes does not have any chromophores, a chemical component that exists in the lens of the eye that slightly reduces the penetration of UV rays

When choosing sunglasses for all members of the family:

– Do not assume the darker the lens, the better the protection.
– The glasses should block 99-100% of both UA & UVB rays.
– Make sure the lenses are made of polycarbonate material, as it is much more impact resistant than conventional plastic lenses.
– When shopping, make sure that the frames are large enough and rounded and conform to the shape of the face to help block UV rays.

Summer camp and outdoor field trips are just around the corner. As you prepare your kids for the great outdoors with sunscreen and insect repellent, don’t forget to talk to them about ticks as they can carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Their usual hangouts include tall grass and bushes in forests, and overgrown areas between the woods and open spaces.

The best way to protect against Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Before your kids venture into the woods this summer, talk to them about these key points:

1.    Ticks are tiny: The ticks that transmit Lyme disease are very small -some are about the size of a poppy seed.

2.    Clothing: While it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, kids should cover exposed skin and wear closed-toe shoes when outdoors. Additionally,wearing light-coloured clothing will help them spot ticks more easily.

3.    Insect repellent: Teach your kids how to properly use insect repellent that contains DEET or Icaridin. They can be applied to clothing as well as exposed skin. (Always follow label directions.)

4.    Safe zones: If your child’s outdoor activity involves walking on trails, speak to them about avoiding short cuts through thick brush and grass. Encourage them to stick to the middle of trails to reduce the chances of a tick climbing onto them.

5.    Tick check: Show your kids how to do body checks for ticks after outdoor activities. Ticks love to attach around moist areas of the body like in the belly button, armpits, behind knees, groin, between toes and in the hairline. Taking a shower will also help wash away loose ticks before they attach.

6.    Removing ticks: If your child gets a tick on them, encourage them to ask an adult to help remove it properly with a pair of tweezers.

For more information on Lyme disease and ways to protect yourself, your children and your pets, visit Canada.ca/LymeDisease.

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