Protecting kids' eyes from the sun

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Summer vacation is almost here, and kids will be spending more time outdoors. While they are outside this summer, it is important that they remember their shades.

Making sure children wear sunscreen is a common safety measure, but ophthalmologist John Vukich said it is just as important to protect children's eyes from UV rays.

"It's the sort of thing that cumulatively overtime can cause damage to the eyes just like it can to your skin," Vukich said.

Too much exposure to sunlight can lead to cataracts, inflammation and growths in people's eyes. This type of damage is not immediately visible in children.

"While they may not have symptoms at a young age, it certainly sets the stage and the foundation for more significant problems later in life," Vukich said.

The easiest way to prevent damage, said Vukich, is buying sunglasses with UV protection. However, it can be hard for parents to keep sunglasses on their kids.

"He sometimes doesn't like to wear them but I usually at least try to have him play in the shade," said Miranda Maloney, whose son Jerry goes to school in Madison.

Eunice McKennie-Lewis, a Madison resident, said she also has problems getting her grandchildren to wear their sunglasses, but she does her best.

"The ones that are able to wear sunglasses, we make them wear sunglasses," McKennie-Lewis said. "Because of the rays from the sun and protecting their eyes, pretty much."

Despite the danger from UV rays, Dr. Vukich said he does not want this to stop people from getting outdoors. He just wants to make sure people are staying safe, and sunglasses and sunscreen are two easy ways to do that.