VANCOUVER -- As Vancouver approaches the first day of summer and a short heat wave sets in, experts are warning about the dangers of UV rays on eyes.

Dr. Briar Sexton, a Vancouver-based ophthalmologist, says that those headed outdoors, no matter how young, need to be wearing sunglasses and a hat.

“I see parents that are religiously wearing their sunglasses - but their kids don’t have them on,” said Sexton, of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.

“So they’re getting years and years and years of sun exposure before they start to wear sunglasses.”

Not wearing adequate eye protection can accelerate clouding of the lens of your eyes, Sexton said, something that’s called a cataract.

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, and they affect more than 2.5 million Canadians. Treatment can include injections or surgery, but if left untreated, cataracts may cause blindness.

While most of the hundreds of thousands of people who require surgery each year across the country are typically in their 60s and 70s, the issue is starting to affect younger people more often.

“We’re seeing it younger and younger, and we think sun exposure is definitely playing a role in that.”

Sexton also recommended wearing a hat to give your eyes an “extra layer” of protection, especially if you’re in an area with little shade cover like a patio or golf course.

She also says that people shouldn’t rely on transition lenses, as they aren’t meant for extended outdoor use, but for quick trips down the driveway or to and from your car.

Proper-fitting sunglasses should wrap around to the sides of your head, and sit flat along your brow line, so there aren’t big gaps allowing UV light to come in from the top or the side. Experts also recommend replacing your sunglasses every few years because the lenses degrade over time.

“Find a pair that you like, they don’t have to be expensive,” Sexton said.

And, she said, you should make a habit of wearing them even on overcast days.

“If I can see through them well enough to walk, I’ve got them on my face,” Sexton added.