The answer to this question is simple: YES.
We all know the damaging effects of the sun on our skin, which is why we have our children wear sunscreen or UV protectant clothing. Ultraviolet light is damaging to children’s eyes as well, and may predispose them to eye conditions later in life such as Age Related Macular Degeneration or Cataracts. Children under the age of 10 are particularly vulnerable because the lenses of their eyes are clear, and this allows the sun’s rays to penetrate their eyes more easily.
What should I look for when choosing children’s sunglasses?
- The sunglasses should block UVA and UVB rays. It must be noted on the label if they do offer this essential level of protection. If the sunglasses do not have UVA/UVB protection, they will be worse than no sunglasses at all, as the child’s pupils will dilate from the dark color of the lens, which will allow even more harmful ray exposure
- Wrap-around shades protect from side sun exposure
- Eyewear retainers are a good idea, i.e. Croakies, to hold their glasses on while they are playing
- The lenses should be impact and scratch resistant. Polycarbonate lenses have superior impact resistance to other materials, and protect their eyes not only from the sun but also from breakage during play
How can I encourage my child to wear their sunglasses?
- Be a role model. Always wear your sunglasses when you go outside
- Let them choose which ones they like the best after you have determined that they are safe choices
- Start them early like all good habits