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January 13, 2020

The ‘no hat, no play’ policy has become part of the DNA of school playgrounds.  But is this enough to protect our children from the damage that the sun can cause, keeping them sun-safe?

Increasing Danger

Increasingly, experts are concerned about the damage done to eyes from UV rays.  ABC News quoted a recent study from America which found that 29 percent of children aged 9 to 11 had eye damage from the sun.  This number was even higher for 12 to 15-year olds.  Associate Professor Celia Chen, ophthalmologist explains:  “It’s very important to protect our eyes because the ultraviolet light from the sunlight can actually damage our eye from the front to back.”

Eye surgeon and Sydney University academic, Dr Alina Zeldovich warns that UV levels have increased dramatically over recent decades.  This has led to a sharp increase in the number of children presenting with eye damage caused by UV exposure.  “The level of eye protection needed now is much greater than it was in the past, and so parents and schools need to be even more vigilant in ensuring that children’s eyes are protected.”

The Slip, Slop, Slap guidelines were updated a number of years ago.  They now include sliding on a pair of sunglasses whenever we’re outside.

Over a year ago, ABC News reported that the The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) urged schools to implement a “no hat, no sunglasses, no play” policy.

So, why are Australian schools lagging behind?

The Challenges

Some parents are concerned about the expense involved in broken or lost sunglasses.  Certainly, the risk of children breaking or losing their childrens sunglasses, particularly in a playground situation, is real.  See how Babiators have solved this problem with the Lost and Broken Guarantee.

Necessary Change

There is already some positive movement in Australian schools.  About 40 childcare centres and kindergartens have made sunglasses a compulsory component of outdoor play.  Some primary schools have also made children’s sunglasses mandatory.

Principal Debra White, of St Peter’s Catholic School in Cambridge, explains why their school board adopted the policy.  “‘The benefits of protecting their eyes far outweigh the risk of losing the odd pair of sunglasses,’ she said. ‘We have been so vigilant over the years with protecting children’s skin; however, their eyes are just as vulnerable.’

However, the number of schools adopting a comprehensive sun safe policy, that includes kids sunglasses, is still marginal. Ultimately, our children’s eyesight is so very important for their future that surely it’s worth making some adjustments to school policy to ensure their sun-safety.


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