Due to widespread awareness about the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) rays, most parents have been very cautious about protecting kids’ skin with sunblock, hats and clothing. However, what is usually overlooked is a good pair of sunglasses.
Children are more susceptible to damage from UV exposure, which can penetrate deep into the eye and can increase the onset of eye problems in the future. It’s really important we protect their vision, especially because kids spend lots of time outside and their eyes haven’t fully developed yet. More importantly, sunglasses may save their skin and eyes later in life by blocking the sun’s powerful UV rays. Children under age 10 are at a high risk for skin and eye damage from UV exposure. The skin on their eyelids and around their eyes is more delicate and vulnerable than adult skin.
UV ray damage builds over time, so the sooner you start protecting your children’s eyes from the sun, the lower their risk will be of ever developing future eye problems.
Here are a few tips to follow to help you find the right sunglasses for your kids:
- UV Protection – Sunglasses for children should block 100% of UV radiation as well as between 75 – 90% of visible light. Any sunglasses you buy should have this information provided in the packaging
- Durability – Kids run, trip and fall. Their sunglasses should match this active lifestyle. Lenses should be made of a high impact material such as polycarbonate to prevent any breakages or scratches. Frames should be bendable but unbreakable. Make sure the glasses fit snugly, close to the face.
- Spring hinges – Hinges that extend beyond 90 degrees and have a spring action to keep the fit of the frame snug will decrease the risk of your child’s sunglasses falling off or getting damaged during sports and other play.
- Let them choose – You’re not the one who has to wear the glasses or hear other kids’ comments on them. Children and especially older kids/teens – are likelier to actually wear them if they select them themselves.
- Fit & Comfort – Children’s sunglasses should offer good eye coverage and fit comfortably. Allow your child to try on various pairs to find something that is comfortable and fits correctly.
- Set an Example – Kids at a young age look up to their parents so set a good example! Ensure you’re wearing your sunglasses every time you go outside if you want your child to do the same.
If your child has prescription sunglasses, be sure they are made with UV blocking clear lenses. 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.
Sunglasses do not have to be expensive. Many inexpensive children’s sunglasses provide excellent UV protection because they include polycarbonate lenses which blocks 100 percent of UV.
Beware because some cheap brands of sunglasses for children can include an unacceptable level of lead and usually are not durable or as high-quality as other sunglasses.
Start with an eye exam – because children’s eyes change so rapidly, make sure your child is seeing well. Children who do not need vision correction should have an eye exam at least every two years. Children who need glasses or contact lenses should have an eye exam annually or as recommended by your eye doctor.