I have planned on posting this for the summer, but as luck would have it, Typhoon Dodong (Noul) is upon us. Anyway, proper eye care is relevant in any season, so here we go.
Will wearing sunglasses make our babies cross-eyed (duling)?
I have long avoided buying sunglasses for our 2-year old boy because I haven’t done my research yet on whether it is safe for babies to wear or not. Yes, I am that kind of mom. Research, research, research. Consult, consult, consult. Aside from our very helpful and kind pedia, my quickest go-to source is Google, but I found no recent posts on the matter. I’ve read enough women’s magazines and articles to know that wearing shades is important to protect our eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Pero sabi ng matatanda, nakakaduling daw ang sunglasses for babies. So I went ahead and asked my friend and orgmate from way back in college, Carol, for her thoughts on the matter. (Thanks so much Ate Carol, for bearing with my questions and for checking my eyes!)
It is safe for babies to wear sunglasses!
Q: Can babies wear sunglasses?
A: Yes, it’s ok for babies to wear sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses won’t lead to a baby becoming cross-eyed. Esotropia, or inward turning of the eyes (cross-eyed or duling in layman’s terms), have several causes. It can be inborn (congenital), refractive (child has a grade for which s/he will need appropriate spectacles), or it may be due to a weakness of extraocular muscles (those which move our eyeballs up, down, right, and left).
Q: What is the youngest age when a baby can start wearing sunglasses?
A: There is no standard age requirement. One thing to consider is practicality. Newborn babies who spend most of their time sleeping indoors will not have much use for it, but for toddlers who already spend a lot of time outdoors, sunglasses may provide them comfort and protection from the glare of the sun.
Guidelines when buying sunglasses for your child:
- Good fit – for kids, this is very important since they will tend to remove it, more so if they are uncomfortable with it. The fit should be perfect to avoid it from falling from the bridge of the nose.
- Kid-safe materials – High-grade plastic is especially preferred rather than glass. Frames should be made from soft materials like rubber or silicone to ensure comfort while young kids wear them. Baby sunglasses generally come in adjustable headband-type straps; not like the conventional ones we see in adult sunglasses.
- Tint doesn’t matter. What is important is the UVA/UVB protection offered. The closer it is to 100%, the better.
- There are a lot of available baby sunglasses in the market. As long as they are kid-safe and provide a good fit, the brand doesn’t really matter.
Tips for Baby Eye Care:
- Prevention is the best cure. For babies, it is always advisable to have their eyes checked and their vision screened by an opthalmologist to detect any conditions that may lead to visual compromise. Unlike adults or older children, babies or pre-verbal toddlers cannot voice out that what they see looks blurry.
- Watch out for unusual positions kids take when looking at books or watching TV, like a prolonged sideways look, as this may be a sign of something wrong in their vision.
Tips for Mommy Eye Care:
- Give your eyes time to rest. Forcing your eyes to “overwork” may lead to eye strain and headaches.
- Working long hours in front of a computer and in a cold and dry environment (read: air conditioned room) may cause dry eyes, which is quite uncomfortable. This leads to the feeling that your “eyes seem too tired”.
- Give your eyes a break every 2-3 hours, like closing them for 10-15 minutes or looking at a distance for a few minutes in between doing near-work.
- If you feel there is something wrong with your eyes or your vision, consult an opthalmologist.
- A yearly check up is best to ensure your eyes are in tip top shape.