Sebastien Chuvan, 8, with (from left) Siennah Chuvan, 12, Mischa, 13, and Mattea Allison, 11. Picture: Adam Head
Sebastien Chuvan, 8, with (from left) Siennah Chuvan, 12, Mischa, 13, and Mattea Allison, 11. Picture: Adam Head

Is this the next compulsory accessory for kids?

EYE experts are pushing for Queensland schools to consider adopting a "no sunglasses, no play" policy similar to that requiring sun hats in a bid to save kids' eye health.

With summer under way, Optometry Australia has urged parents to ensure kids' eyes are protected, with the school playground identified a potential danger spot.

Spokeswoman Sophie Koh said parents should consider adding UV-protective sunglasses to their child's school uniform.

"It is essential for parents and teachers to understand that UV damage from the sun begins at childhood," she said.

"Like skin cancer, you can't physically see the impact of UV until later in life.

"How much UV exposure you've had as a child will affect your risk of eye diseases in adulthood."

Though there is no blanket directive to Queensland schools regarding sunglasses, they are required to develop a sun safety strategy.

"Individual schools may also choose to include the wearing of sunglasses in their localised sun safety strategy," an education department spokesman said.

Several public schools, including Maroochydore State High School and Ferny Grove State High School, encourage their students to wear sunglasses while in the playground.

While a broad-brimmed hat halves the level of UV exposure of the eyes, that jumps to as high as 98 per cent with appropriate sunglasses.

Mother of five Emma Allison said she was conscious of making sure her children's eyes were protected.

"Two of my girls have very sensitive eyes, and the glare in the playground does not help," she said.

"I'm certainly pro sunglasses at school, I would really like to see the option available."

Cancer Council Queensland chief executive Chris McMillan said encouraging kids to be sun safe while young helped to shape healthy long-term habits.

"Cancer Council Queensland recommends the use of broad-brimmed hats, sun safe uniforms, sunscreen, effective shade and where practical allow use of sunglasses," she said.

"When use of sunglasses is not possible, a proper sun safe hat can assist in the reduction of UV exposure to the face including eyes."

Optometrist Ben Hamlyn said too much sun and UV exposure increases the risk of a number of conditions, including the earlier development of cataracts and skin cancers to the eye lids.

"Kids eyes are particular susceptible to UV damage, and students should be encouraged to wear sunglasses," he said.

But Mr Hamlyn said there could be potential barriers to schools adopt as strict a policy regarding sunglasses, as many do with hats.

"It may be difficult to implement a strict uniform policy regarding sunglasses," he said.

"With children having smaller faces, smaller noses, it can be difficult to find ones which fit comfortably and they are more susceptible to being lost or broken."



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