Children are more susceptible to UV damage than adults because they tend to spend more time outside than adults. Children are also at a greater risk of UV damage because the lenses of their eyes are more transparent, which allows more short wavelength light to reach the retina. UV damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning it builds over time. UV exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems.
In fact, some experts say we get up to 80% of our lifetime exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by the time we're 18 years old.
Many styles available
You should have no trouble finding sunglasses your child will enjoy wearing. Children's sunglasses are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes. And virtually any children's frame can be transformed into sunglasses by adding prescription or non-prescription sun lenses.
Metal frames are very popular for children's sunglasses because of their durability. Wraparound styles like those worn by adults are also popular in scaled-down versions for kids. Because they fit closer to the face than traditional frame styles, wraparound sunglasses provide superior UV protection not only for your child's eyes, but for the delicate skin around their eyes as well.
Choose lenses with 100% UV protection
Sunglasses should block out 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Sunglasses without UV protection may shade the eyes but actually cause the pupils to dilate, allowing in even more harmful rays.
Photochromic/transitions polycarbonate lenses are a good choice for kids who need prescription eyewear. These lenses darken automatically when exposed to the sun's UV rays, and then quickly return to a clear state indoors – so one pair of eyeglasses does the job of two! They also provide 100% UV protection.
Don't forget the accessories!
To protect your investment in your child's sunglasses, purchase a durable, hard-shell carry case for them. Also, make sure your son or daughter knows how to clean and care for their eyewear. Getting sunglass cords (commonly called "retainers") is also a good idea. These are attached to the temples of the frame so your child can remove their sunglasses and the eyewear will stay with them – hanging from their neck instead of getting misplaced.
For more information on children's sunglasses, visit All About Vision®.