Many parents don’t know the importance of sunglasses for children and don’t stress that they wear them, especially given the hassle involved in encouraging children to wear them and take care of them properly. However, studies show that since we spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine as children that by the age of 18, our eyes and body have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection even more critical for children.
Risks to children’s eyes from overexposure to the sun can be short term and long term.
Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only your eyes, but also the area around your eyes from UV exposure and damage. Since these diseases can be caused by an accumulation of UV exposure over a lifetime, it is important to start preventative measures early, by getting children in the habit of wearing sunglasses when they are outside.
Quality sunglasses for children are important. It is important to make sure that the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection and block UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. A polycarbonate lens is also important in children, as they are more durable and impact resistant, especially helpful for active kids.
Children that already wear eyeglasses can consider photochromic lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses in one. With photochromic lenses, you don’t need to worry about your children switching, and misplacing glasses when they go in or outdoors.
Lastly, let your child be involved in the process of selecting sunglasses, as any child will be more enthusiastic about wearing shades that he or she picked out and loves.