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C. Kent

Parents risk their children's eyes in summer sun

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.-- Summer is officially here and families are heading out to take advantage of rising temperatures. While most Moms and Dads slather their kids with SPF30 before hitting the water, few stop to think about protecting the area that's often most damaged by UV rays -- a child's eyes. According to a survey released today by VSP (Vision Service Plan), parents are almost three times more likely to have their child use sunscreen than wear sunglasses when playing outside on a sunny day, leaving kids at high risk for vision-damage.

 

According to VSP's survey, only 4 percent of parents always make sure to hand their child sunglasses at the beach or before they go outdoors -- which is especially troubling, because according to the American Optometric Association, prolonged sun exposure can lead to macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.). UV rays can also lead to the early development of cataracts. Since children's eyes are most susceptible to sun damage, parents should protect their kids' vision, as well as their skin, when taking part in sunshine-filled activities.

 

"This time of year provides for hours of fun, but we must also be cautious during these long days in the sunshine," said VSP Board Chair Dr. Bruce Mebine, O.D. "I applaud parents who are consistent about using sunscreen, but unfortunately, that's simply not enough to keep a child safe. While anyone who spends time in the sun is at risk for damage, those who spend extensive hours outdoors, especially around bodies of water, have an increased risk of damaging their eyes through UV exposure. This obviously applies to children at play as well as adults."

 

Parents can lead by example when it comes to protective eyewear. VSP's survey reports that two out of three adults wear sunglasses on a sunny day. Moms and Dads can begin their child's vision regimen early by passing along these same positive eyecare habits and making sure that the whole family sees a vision professional to prevent future problems.

 

"Protecting your child's eyesight this summer is as essential as it is easy," said Mebine. "When you're tossing the towel, swim trunks and sunscreen into the beach bag, remember to pack the sunglasses, and you're ready for a day at the pool."

 

About VSP

 

VSP provides eyecare benefit plans that range from comprehensive eye examinations and materials to complete medical and surgical eyecare. With over 40 million members, one in eight people in the United States relies on VSP for eyecare health coverage. VSP's Sight for Students program has helped more than 250,000 low-income/uninsured children receive free eyecare services since its inception in 1997. VSP, a company with over $2 billion in annual gross revenue, has been recognized by Fortune Magazine for the sixth consecutive year as one of best places to work in America. For more information, visit www.vsp.com.

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