Babies need sunglasses!
Sure, sunglasses look adorable on babies. But did you know they’re more than just an accessory – they’re actually a health necessity?
Sunglasses provide comfort from the brightness of the sun, but they also offer protection from harmful ultraviolet rays that can damage your baby’s eyes.
UV rays can damage the eyes of babies and children, opthalmologists advise.
UV radiation has been associated with a myriad of health issues including (source):
- macular degeneration
- some types of eye cancers
- skin cancer on the eyelid
- corneal sunburn
- pterygium (growth on the cornea)
They recommend that all youngsters under the age of 10 should wear sunglasses in strong sunshine. But they should be good sunglasses.
Why are babies' eyes at risk?
The cornea, lens and fluids are clearer in a child’s eye than in an adult’s. This allows more short wavelength light to reach the retina, which can lead to cataracts in later life.
Estimates vary, but it is thought that between 60 and 80 percent of sun exposure takes place prior to the age of 18.
Children and teenagers are particularly susceptible to the sun's damaging rays because they typically spend more time outdoors than adults.
Sonal Rughani, Senior Service Advisor for RNIB (charity supporting blind and partially sighted people), says, "A substantial amount of our exposure to sunlight occurs when we are children.
"As the leading charity committed to preventing avoidable sight loss, we encourage children to look after their eyes, as excessive exposure to sunlight can potentially damage the eyes and may contribute to the onset of other eye-related conditions such as AMD and cataracts.
"Sunglasses with proper UV protection can make a positive contribution to eye protection in the young."
When should your baby wear sunglasses?
If you have a particularly young child and they are in a stroller with a shade or cover they likely do not need sunglasses.
However, if you are wearing or carrying your baby, pushing them in a stroller without a shade, or if they are playing outside, use sunglasses to protect your baby’s eyes.
Invest in quality sun protection to protect baby's sensitive eyes. Be sure to grab a pair for the diaper bag, the car and school or day care so you'll never have to go looking for them.
What features are important in choosing baby sunglasses?
When buying sunglasses for your baby, keep in mind the following:
- UVA and UVB blockage: You want glasses that filter 99% of UVA and UVB rays.
- Color: Lenses should be gray tinted (as opposed to pink, blue, or another color) to keep colors as close to natural as possible (source).
- Tint: Sunglasses come in many different tints – from barely-there transparent gray to a super-dark (almost black) tint. See our category Chart to see why a category 3 or 4 lens is best for baby.
- Safety: Babies and toddlers are hard on glasses. Choose ones that will not break easily or shatter when dropped, which could cut or injure them. For optimal safety, choose lenses that are made of polycarbonate and approved by the American National Standards Institute. Always check the label for the CE mark to show that they are made to an agreed European standard. Look out too for the British standard for sunglasses BSEN 1836:1997.
- Wraparound: Sunglasses that wrap around a child’s (as opposed to simply sitting on the nose like typical vision correction glasses) will prevent light from entering the eye through the sides.
- Price: Let’s be honest. Kids can be tough on sunglasses. You don’t want to buy them expensive ones only to find they lose them at the park or break them when they try to flex them beyond the point of no return. Try to find a blend of quality materials and affordable price so if they do get lost or damaged; it won’t be so painful to purchase a new pair.
What if my baby won't keep their sunglasses on?
If your baby really resists, and tries to pull them off every time you put them on, don't get stressed. Just make sure your baby wears a hat with a wide brim or visor. And remember, there are baby sunglasses, such as Adventure Banz or Retro Banz, which have a stretchy band that goes gently right round your baby's head (and is much harder for your baby to take off!).