Although Winter is associated with grey skies and dark afternoons, when the sun does shine it is truly beautiful and bright. Also, as some of us are going away to escape the Winter chill, we thought we would ask the incredibly busy founder of Zoobug (a specialist in children’s eyewear), Dr. Julie Diem Le if she would take time out of her hectic schedule to answer our questions, not only about the importance of sun protection for kids’ eyes but also about kids’ eye health in general. In fact, it was from being introduced to Zoobug which prompted us to have our little ones eyes checked which we will write about soon.
1. What made you want to specialise in kids’ eyewear and set up Zoobug?
I was looking for sunglasses for my 1 year old niece at the time. It was in 2006, and I couldn’t find any labels that specialised in frames exclusively for children. It was frustrating – there was so little available. That was the start of Zoobug and our first sunglass collection launch came soon after.
2. What are some basic signs parents/carers can look out for when it comes to checking their children’s eye health?
We always advise regular eye checks. There are some signs such as children rubbing their eyes, but really the best thing to do is to have regular tests because some eye conditions can only be identified by a specialist during this examination.
3. At what age should parents/carers consider booking in their child’s first eye test?
Some parents think you can only have a test when your child can read but that’s not true, you should start to take your children to an optician from a young age as pre-schoolers. In the UK the tests are free for children. Don’t wait for your kid’s school to suggest a test – see the visit to the optician as part of your child’s health programme just like visits to the dentist.
4. What do you recommend that parents/carers check for when looking at frames for their children?
Frames are now available in all shapes and sizes – glasses and sunglasses. Quality is the key. With specs, we have focused on creating designs that are made to fit children specifically with features that help secure the frame. The kids’ frames you can find now are fun and colourful, but as a parent I would always go back to checking fit and comfort as these are the features that will make wearing the frames more pleasurable. Some large designs may look cool but the frames have to have the right proportions on the face to ensure good vision. If they are too large, this will not be the case and they will also slide off the face.
One of our innovations – a special bridge that supports the frame on the tiniest faces – is one of the features of our Winning Polarised Sunglasses in the Junior Design Awards 2015, which were awarded Best Travel Product for Children. We have worked with kids closely to develop features that perform specifically for the kids and their daily needs when sitting, playing, studying in school etc.
5. What is the importance of checking the type of lenses in sunglasses?
Always go for the best lenses. We use adult quality polarised lenses that protect and offer visual clarity (i.e. no blurring). I always recommend shatterproof lenses with 100% UV protection – and polarised because they give maximum optical clarity and cut through glare.
6. You work with eye charity Orbis donating eyewear to disadvantaged children across the globe – was this always part of the Zoobug ideology or has it grown over the years?
This is a new programme, in which we are donating frames for children abroad. Our latest donation has arrived in Zambia. Orbis UK has launched a government backed appeal for children there.
7. You are a trained eye surgeon. What are the main problems you have had to treat children for?
I saw a lot of conditions from the more common such as squint, red and watery eye to the rarer forms of congenital blindness present from birth.
We thank Dr. Julie Diem Le for answering our questions and for providing us with a look at Zoobug’s new range of children’s sunglasses. Whether off-piste on a skiing holiday, frolicking on the beach or simply going for a walk on a crisp, sunny Winter’s day, it is important to remember your little one’s eye health so damage is not caused by the harmful sun’s rays.