Do children need sunglasses?
Yes, they absolutely do. Damage to eyes from exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is cumulative over our lifetime. Because kids spend much more time outdoors than most adults do, sunglasses that block 100 percent UV are especially important for children.
Some experts estimate that up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation occurs by age 18. If this is true, sunglasses may be more important for children than most people imagine.
Wearing sunglasses during childhood may play an important role in preventing eye problems later in life that have been associated with cumulative UV exposure, including cataracts and pterygia.
Sunglasses help protect children’s eyes from UV rays and glare, whether it’s a sunny day at the beach or a cloudy day. Make sure your child’s sunglass lenses are made of a shatter-resistant material.
And UV rays aren’t the only potential danger from sunlight.
Recently, researchers have suggested that long-term exposure to high-energy visible blue light from sunlight might also cause eye damage over time, including increasing the risk of macular degeneration later in life.
Children’s eyes are more susceptible to UV and blue light than adult eyes because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of filtering these high-energy rays. This is especially true for young children, so it’s wise for kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible.
Also, be aware that your child’s exposure to UV rays increases at high altitudes, in tropical locales and in highly reflective environments (such as in a snowfield, on the water or on a sandy beach). Protective sunwear is especially important for kids in these situations.
Choosing sunglass lens colors
The level of UV protection sunglasses provide has nothing to do with the color of the lenses.
As long as your optometrist certifies that the lenses block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, the choice of color and tint density is a matter of personal preference.
Most sunglass lenses that block the sun’s HEV rays are amber or copper in color. By blocking blue light, these lenses also enhance contrast.
Another great option is eyeglasses with photochromic lenses, which are clear indoors and darken automatically in sunlight. Photochromic lenses eliminate the need for a separate pair of sunglasses for kids who need glasses for vision correction and are available in a variety of lens materials and colors.
All photochromic lenses block 100 percent UV and provide ample protection from high-energy visible blue light.
Start with an eye exam
Before buying sunglasses for children, schedule an eye exam with one of our Optic Edge Optometrists.
Kids’ eyes can change quickly through their growing phase and having an up-to-date eyeglass prescription (if needed) is the first step to helping your child see as clearly and comfortably as possible outdoors.