Most of us know that UV rays from the sun can damage our skin, but few realize that those same rays can damage our eyes and lead to permanent vision loss - and fewer still know their children's eyes are at risk too.
"UV rays have a cumulative effect over time and can lead to eye diseases that can cause serious vision loss," says Dr. Keith Gordon, vice president of research at CNIB.
"CNIB has been carrying that message to Canadians for years - but many people still don't realize that children need to protect their vision from UV damage as well."
According to Dr. Gordon, children in particular need protection, as their eye tissues are more susceptible to sun damage and they tend to be outdoors more often.
Excessive lifetime exposure to UV rays has been linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and other eye conditions, which is why it's never too early for kids to wear sunglasses outdoors. But there is something that can be done to help prevent vision loss caused by UV, says Dr. Gordon.
"The best line of defence for both kids and adults is a pair of quality sunglasses with at least 99 per cent UVA and UVB protection," he says.
"And those sunglasses should be worn year-round, even in cloudy weather, because UV rays are present at all times."
To help spread that message across Canada, CNIB is encouraging Canadians from coast to coast to throw on their sunglasses this May and take part in Shades of Fun - a month-long campaign designed to raise awareness about UV damage and raise funds in support of vital CNIB services for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.
? For more information on UV protection and how you can get involved with Shades of Fun, visit shadesoffun.ca.