Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loyola Pediatric Ophthalmologist Says Balance is Key for Kids and Sunlight

Pediatric Ophthalmologist Warns Too Much or Too Little Sunlight Bad for Kids

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Summer months are just on the horizon bringing wonderful warm days filled with sunshine. For most parents, sending kids outside to play includes lathering them with sunscreen to protect their skin from too much of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, but what about protecting their eyes?

“There is a lot of research that shows the harmful effects of too much sunlight for a child’s eyes. Sunlight overexposure can lead to aging of the lens and retina damage,” said James McDonnell, MD, medical director of pediatric ophthalmology at Loyola University Health System and professor of ophthalmology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

McDonnell suggests that if a child is going to be in the sun for 20 minutes or longer, sunglasses are essential.

“There are a lot of sunglasses out there that are not effective at protecting kids’ eyes from damaging rays,” McDonnell said.

Sunglasses for kids should:

  • Have a wraparound frame to protect from peripheral light
  • Be transparent enough to see a child’s eyes through the lens
  • Not be made of dangerous chemicals, such as bisphehol or phthalates
  • Fit properly and comfortably
  • Have lenses that protect from UVA and UVB rays

“Children with fair skin tend to have lighter colored eyes and are more vulnerable to too much sun exposure. No matter what their eye color, all children who have prolonged sun exposure should wear good sunglasses,” McDonnell said.

He also suggested wearing a hat with a brim to protect the eyes and face from too much sun exposure.

“Light sensitivity can run in the family. So, if you are sensitive to light, your child might be, too,” McDonnell said. “Still, if your child has an unusual sensitivity to light, it could be a symptom of a medical condition and it’s important for the child to see a pediatric ophthalmologist."

Though parents need to protect their children’s eyes from too much sun exposure, too little also can be a problem.

“Our eyes need sunlight. We shouldn’t avoid being in the sun. Sunlight exposure does a lot of good things for our bodies, like driving melatonin production, and is important for the sleep cycle. You just don’t want too much of a good thing,” McDonnell said.
For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.