Category: Interesting Facts

Choosing the right type of sunglasses for kids

Jul 21 2016

girl sunglasses

I came across an interesting article on sun protection for children’s eyes recently published in Today’s Parent website. Here is what an Ontario-based optician and mother recommends for children.


Thanks to widespread awareness about the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) rays, most parents are vigilant about protecting kids’ skin with sunblock, hats and clothing. But what’s often left out of the mix is a good pair of sunglasses—and that can spell future vision problems. We asked Yasmeen Syed, a licensed optician, instructor at Seneca College’s optician program and mom of two in Mississauga, Ont., for tips on choosing children’s sunglasses.

Do kids really need sunglasses?
Children are more susceptible to damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can penetrate deep into the eye and increase the onset of problems like macular degeneration, cataracts and surface eye diseases. It’s really important we protect their vision, especially because kids spend lots of time outside and their eyes haven’t fully developed yet. They need sunglasses that protect against 100% of UVA and UVB rays, even on cloudy or overcast days—the rays penetrate through the clouds year-round.

At what age should kids start wearing sunglasses?
I’d say two-and-a-half to three years old. When they’re younger than that, it’s physically difficult to do, but it gets easier as they get older.

Is a wide-brimmed hat a good alternative to sunglasses?
A wide-brimmed hat is a good idea, but it won’t replace sunglasses. The sun will reflect off the sidewalk, sand, water or snow from below, so it’s still getting into their eyes.

Don’t we need sunshine to generate vitamin D?
A little bit of sunlight is good for all of us, but if children are playing outside for extended periods of time, that’s intense, and their eyes need to be protected. Just like we protect our skin with sunscreen, we need to protect our eyes with glasses.

What should parents look for when choosing kids’ sunglasses?
The material of the lenses should be polycarbonate, which is ideal for children: it’s impact-resistant and lighter than standard lenses, and polycarbonate itself is UV protective. A large frame always provides the best protection, with temples that are a little wider to prevent peripheral sun from getting in. Not only does it block the most UV, but it keeps out sand and debris. The frame should be close-fitting and flexible—look for spring hinges that extend beyond 90 degrees, so they’re less likely to break. Kids tend to be rough with their glasses.

What if a kid already wears prescription glasses?
You can get them a second pair with tinted polycarbonate lenses, or you can get photochromic lenses that change from light to dark to avoid having two pairs to keep track of. They won’t replace a good pair of sunglasses, but it’s better than not wearing anything. They do provide full UV protection, but sunglasses tend to be bigger and give you a little more wrap.

How much should parents expect to spend on good-quality children’s sunglasses?
You’re probably looking at about $70 to $140, and prescription lenses will cost more. What you want to avoid is low-quality sunglasses, like those stands of sunglasses at big-box stores. A lot of times, there’s a sticker that says “Blocks UV rays.” Be wary of stuff like that—avoid glasses that don’t specify the percentage of UV blocked. Also, with those cheap sunglasses, the lenses aren’t optometry grade—they might be too thin, or distorted, and your child might not want to wear them because their vision is affected. If you go to the dollar store, you might find glasses imported from who knows where, and they might contain lead in the frame or hinges. They’re not good quality, so you might go through several pairs. It’s better to invest in a good-quality pair and make sure your child’s eyes are protected.

How can parents encourage kids to wear their sunglasses?
It’s important for family members to lead by example. If parents are wearing sunglasses and putting a hat on when they go out in the summer, children are more likely to mimic that behaviour. And let the child have input into choosing the glasses, so they’re committed – they like the style, they helped choose it, they’re excited about it. There’s been a huge burst of children’s glasses coming on the market. Ray-Ban has a new collection, just like the adult version but for kids—which is good, because they’re mimicking what their parents are wearing. You can also use elastic bands to provide a snug fit, so kids can play hands-free and the glasses will stay on.

How did you get your kids to wear their sunglasses?
I make it a rule at my house. When we go outside, everybody has their glasses on. Getting my five-year-old son into that routine was difficult, but he really likes Bruno Mars, who’s always wearing sunglasses and a hat, so I got him the sunglasses, and I had to get him the hat too—it was the look he was after! Now he wears these cute little Ray-Bans and he’s just used to them.

Any tips on preventing kids from losing their sunglasses?
Encourage them to put their sunglasses back in the case when they take them off, and that case should have a spot—in their desk at school, on the console table when they get home, or in their room. If there’s a spot for everything, things are less likely to get lost. You could also put a label with your child’s name inside the temple or on the case.

boy sunglasses

If you wish to read more about this article and other interesting facts on children’s health, please follow this link:

How to choose sunglasses for kids


Have a great summer!

The MEC team

Winter weather and dry eyes

Jan 13 2016


Published by: MEC – January 2016


Now that winter has fully embraced us with its presence, the cold and windy conditions affect millions of Canadians with dry eyes symptoms. If you feel that you are suffering from dry eyes symptoms, it is recommended to see an optometrist for a thorough eye examination and assessment. It is important to remember appropriate eye protection during the winter months to reduce the uncomfortable conditions of dry eyes.

Protect yourself from the cold and windy conditions with eye glasses or goggles, especially during outdoor sport activities (i.e. skiing, ice skating, walking). Also, for the dry indoors environment, it is suggested to have a humidifier to keep the air moist and warm, to stay hydrated with water, and to increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids as they can stimulate and increase your tear production. Additionally, if your optometrist has prescribed artificial tear drops – use them, they are very helpful in relieving the dry eye symptoms.

On the other hand, excessive tearing, red swollen eyes, and burning eye symptoms can occur during the winter months when spending time outdoors. These symptoms can make your vision blurry, increase your tear production, create eyelid spasms, and create light sensitivity. Although we always think of wearing sunglasses for eye protection during the summer months, it is also strongly recommended to protect your eyes during the cold winter months.

dry_eyes drops


Source: Discovery Eye Foundation blog post from Dec. 11, 2014


November is Diabetes & Diabetic Eye Diseases awareness month

Nov 03 2015

How is diabetes related with a person’s vision? What are the diabetic eye diseases that individuals should watch for? What kind of treatment is available for patients?


There are over 10 million Canadians living with diabetes and Type 2 is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 90% of cases. Researchers today are saying that the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically and cases could double by 2025. So how does diabetes affect a person’s eyes and their vision? The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) states that:

“Diabetes can cause changes in nearsightedness, farsightedness and premature presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects). It can result in cataracts, glaucoma, paralysis of the nerves that control the eye muscles or pupil, and decreased corneal sensitivity. Visual symptoms of diabetes include fluctuating or blurring of vision, occasional double vision, loss of visual field, and flashes and floaters within the eyes. Sometimes these early signs of diabetes are first detected in a thorough examination performed by a doctor of optometry. The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.”


So what is Diabetic Retinopathy? The CAO explains that:

“Over time diabetes can cause changes in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina of your eye, resulting in blood leakage, the growth of new blood vessels and other changes. When retinopathy advances, the decreased circulation of the blood vessels deprives areas of the retina of oxygen. Blood vessels become blocked or closed, and parts of the retina die. New, abnormal, blood vessels grow to replace the old ones.  If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, blindness can result.”

However, vision loss in patients diagnosed with diabetes can be controlled. Thus the importance in having routine eye exams performed by an optometrist and to have early detection for any signs of threatening vision changes. Physicians and optometrists alike also stress the importance of controlling your diabetes in order to minimize the risk of developing retinopathy.


Treatment for diabetic retinopathy involves the use of intraocular injections of anti-VEGF therapy (Lucentis, Avastin) or laser therapy (photocoagulation), where a bright beam of light is focused on the retina, causing a laser burn that seals off leaking blood vessels. Nevertheless, early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial, as treatment is much more likely to be successful at an early stage.


To summarize, it is important to control your diabetes symptoms, follow your physician’s instructions and to have frequent eye exams by your optometrist.

diabetic retinopathy image

Want to know if you are at risk of developing diabetes? Click on the link and take the CANRISK test!


Source: Types of Diabetes – Canadian Diabetes Association; Diabetes – Canadian Association of Optometrists; The Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire – Canadian Diabetes Association

Tidbits of information about MEC – Seniors

Oct 23 2015

Are you interested about what the Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) does in the community? Want to know how many clinics we have done since the start of the MEC? Curious about how many seniors have vision problems? Interested in having the MEC come to your community?


The CCB has created an initiative with local optometrists and the Lions Club District A4 to offer yearly OHIP covered comprehensive eye exams to seniors in their residences. The CCB and its partners along with the support of the community are funding the MEC program by covering the cost of the portable equipment and the administrative tasks associated with promoting and organizing the clinics.

lionlogo_2cDriver side

This program is a first of its kind in Ontario and has a research component to measure the impact of vision problems in seniors and the prevention of falls among them. Our optometrists use portable equipment to perform eye exams. Once the exam is done, we issue a letter with the exam’s results and give it to the seniors for their records/medical doctors. Also a prescription for glasses or a referral to a specialist for follow up is provided when required.


In reality, the Mobile Eye Clinic program offers a cost effective and efficient way of providing ocular support, prevention and treatment to communities and seniors that may otherwise go unvisited, undiagnosed and untreated. This initiative thus creates better vision for seniors, which in turn reduces isolation, falls, and injuries and therefore increases their overall quality of life.


Since May 2013, the MEC has seen a total of 633 seniors, with an average age of 80 years, and has visited a total of 28 seniors’ residences within the Ottawa Valley region. Of those patients, 39% of seniors have improved their vision with prescription glasses and 56% are living with an ocular disease or condition that is treatable.


The MEC is offering OHIP covered comprehensive eye exams to seniors 65 years and older (living in Ontario) whom have not had an eye exam within the past year. If you are interested in having the MEC visit your community/residence or want to have more information about the program, please contact Monica or Julie at 613-567-0311 or via email at or


Source: CCB MEC –seniors 2015-2016 ppt presentation; Seniors master list Eye clinics’ results ALL as of October 19, 2015-NEW DATA.

October is Children’s vision awareness month!

Oct 23 2015

Did you know that the month of October is Children’s vision awareness month in Canada? Do you know when children should have their first eye exam? Were you aware that there is a relation between children’s vision and learning?


The MEC has visited schools in the Ottawa region since 2014 to perform over 1,162 OHIP covered eye exams to children from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Thanks to the MEC, 18% of the children tested for eye exams had one or more vision problem, and 14% of these children required prescription glasses.


As cited on the Canadian Association of Optometrists’ (CAO) website:

“61 per cent of Canadian parents mistakenly believe they would know if their child was having difficulty with their eyesight. However, many serious eye conditions do not have obvious symptoms and some eye diseases only show symptoms when the condition is advanced and difficult to treat. Conditions such as amblyopia or a “lazy eye” need to addressed when a child is young. Comprehensive eye examinations would result in 51% more children receiving successful treatment for amblyopia by age 10.”


In Ontario, children under the age of 20 years are entitled to a comprehensive eye exam every year covered by the Ministry of Health (OHIP). As per the CAO’s position statement on the frequency of eye examinations, infants and toddlers should have their first eye exam, by an optometrist, between the ages of 6 to 9 months; preschool children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of 2 to 5 years; and school aged children (from 6 to 19 years) should continue having eye exams every year.


Research also indicates a relationship between children’s learning difficulties and their vision. Experts say that almost 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually, so when children with undiagnosed vision loss have difficulty learning in school, parents and teachers believe they have a vision problem and require prescription glasses. However, nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are not the only visual disorders that can make learning more difficult. Less obvious vision problems related to the way the eyes function and how the brain processes visual information also can limit your child’s ability to learn.


The best course of action a parent can do for their child is to have them see an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam that is covered by OHIP. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision, or you wish to invite the MEC to your child’s school, please contact Monica or Julie at 613-567-0311 or via email at: or

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Source: OAO – Schools – Mobile Eye Clinic Statistics – May 2015 – June 2015; CAO Policy and Advocacy position statement (dated July 31, 2013); Learning-Related vision problems