We’re Not Doing Our Job
August 6, 2013 14 Comments
As the roving photographer shooting 20/20’s Upfront Street Seen feature, I experience first-hand what consumers everywhere are wearing in the way of sunwear and eye protection as they go about their lives. Once a year, I have a special assignment to photograph your younger patients. I’ll wander an outdoor shopping mall, hit the local beaches or a tourist destination on a Saturday afternoon, photographing kids with their parents.
This year I had to go to three different locations in order to find enough kids wearing sunglasses or even ophthalmic eyewear to fulfill my assignment. There were plenty of kids to be found… that wasn’t the problem. The problem was they weren’t wearing glasses. I’d see an entire family coming down the street, both parents wearing sunglasses and three kids with no sunglasses. For every 10 children I encountered, only one was wearing glasses of any kind, and only two-thirds of those were sunglasses.
We as an industry are failing these children. Somehow, the sunscreen message has made an impression on parents, with youngsters being slathered with sunscreen at the beach. But those same kids are building sand castles in the glaring sunshine without sunscreen for their eyes. It could be because there is an immediate and visible consequence to forgetting sunscreen for your arms and face… a wicked and painful sunburn. But the accumulative damage from a life without sunglasses will wreck more permanent damage than the occasional sunburn. And yet, over and over again, my camera documented families of adults and kids where the adults all sported sunglasses while the kids’ eyes were left unprotected.
I’d like to throw out this message and see if we can make it stick: “You wouldn’t send your child outside for the day without sunscreen, would you?” Well then don’t forget sun protection for their eyes either. If we do a better job getting the message out to parents, maybe next year my assignment to photograph kids in glasses will be easier.
—Christie Walker, LabTalk Editor, 20/20 Contributing Editor