Article at a Glance

  • Sunglasses protect your child’s vision from damage caused by UV rays.
  • Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid cheap sunglasses that can break easily and that don’t offer any protection.

Let’s be honest, kids look adorable in sunglasses. But sunglasses are also an important way to protect your child’s vision.

When out in the sun, your skin isn’t the only place that can get sunburned. Your eyes are also vulnerable. Just being out in the sun one day can result in a painful burned cornea. Repeat exposure can cause cataracts (the clouding of the eye lens) or macular degeneration (when the macula deteriorates).

It is never too early to start using sunglasses, even for babies. And starting early will also help develop the habit. But if your child resists using the sunglasses, don’t push it. Instead you can help limit exposure by having your child wear a hat that shades the face.

Unfortunately not all sunglasses are created equal. Here is what you should look for:

UV Protection: You will want to look for a pair that blocks at least 99 percent of UVB and UVA rays. Avoid glasses that say they block UV rays but don’t tell you how much. How dark the lenses are does not influence the level of protection. The protection comes from a chemical coating that is applied to the lens.

Proper Fit: Find sunglasses that have big lenses and fit closely to the eyes. Make sure they are comfortable so that your child is more likely to wear them.

Lenses: Children can be rough on things, so when possible look for polycarbonate lenses. They are 10x more resistant to impact and are lighter and more comfortable to wear.

Frames: Look for sturdy and flexible frames. If there is some give in the frame, they will be less likely to break. Finding well-made spring hinges will also help. The hinges should extend beyond 90 degrees and be able to spring back into place.

Cords and Bands: An elastic band that holds the glasses in place is also helpful so that the sunglasses are easier to keep on. But be careful of cords that might be a choking hazard for babies or toddlers. Even with older children a band can get caught on something and become a strangulation hazard, so make sure cords automatically come off if any pressure is placed on them.

Avoid Cheap Sunglasses: Cheap sunglasses can cause your child’s pupils to dilate and let in more UV rays without giving any protection. The frames are also more likely to break and cause an injury. Sometimes lead can be found in the paint used on cheaper sunglasses. This can be particularly bad if your child is at the stage where they still suck or chew on everything.

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Why Do Kids Need Sunglasses?

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