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  • Writer's picturePeninsula Eye Physicians

Should Children Wear Sunglasses?

Every child should have a set of sun glasses. Just like every child should have a hat, wear sunscreen, eat veggies and brush their teeth. (Yes, it is really that important.) I’m surprised by the number of parents that feel their kids don’t need them and in my opinion it’s a real problem.

According to a WebMD study, 73% of adults wear sunglasses but only 58% of them make their children wear shades. Though not specified in the study, those numbers should primarily reflect non-prescription wearers. As someone who helps hundreds of kids a year with prescription eyewear I’d have to say that less than 5% of kids (under the age of 18) with prescription eyewear also have a set of prescription sunglasses.

Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses provide UV protection but that doesn’t help with glare or light sensitivity. Though it is law in the state of California to fit minors with shatter resistant lenses (Polycarbonate or Trivex) it is not mandatory in all states, so we can’t assume that all kids are protected from UV just because they have prescription eyeglasses.

The improvements made to photochromatic technology has helped give kids the glare and brightness reduction they need but in my experience I’ve found that less than half of kids under the age of 10 wear photochromatic lenses. Though that percentage isn’t terrible, once kids are middle school age (11-13 years old) that percentage drops to around 10%. (Middle Schoolers don't think it's "cool")

What I want to show you with this information is that no matter how you look at it there are too many young eyes getting hurt by the sun. I have two boys, ages 3 and 5, and I never have a problem pointing them out on a playground because they are usually the only ones with sunglasses.

Being an optician, seeing kids with visual deficiencies on a daily basis, I want to encourage parents to take care of their children’s eyes for as long as they can control it. If a child does not need prescription lenses then there is really no excuse for them not having sunglasses. You can find decent sunglasses for kids at Target for less than $10, maybe even cheaper than that online. Look for 100% UV protection and polycarbonate lenses. You’ll find many affordable options.

I know it’s not as easy when you have a child that needs prescription lenses. Cost is the main deterrent. If a child only has one set of glasses then I would highly recommend photochromatic lenses. Children (Under the age of 10) rarely notice the tint, it’s usually the parents that don’t like the appearance. I know it’s a sacrifice, you want to see those beautiful eyes without any impediments, but you’ll be glad you did it years down the line.

If photochromatic lenses are not an option then make sure the lenses are made of polycarbonate or Trivex. Not only are they safe and durable but they also provide the best UV protection because it was placed in the resin of those materials. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the law in California but some states don’t mandate it. To be on the safe side, always ask your optician for polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. If you combine a hat with those types of lenses you’ll be making a huge difference in their visual quality and overall eye health.

The benefits of sunscreen, eating healthy and protecting eyes from the sun are not always measurable in the early years of a child’s life, but it is indisputable that they carry lasting effects. For as long as you can control it, protect the eyes of the children you care for. It may be a few years away but they will thank you for your persistence.

Popular Kids Sunglasses Brands: Polaroid Kids, Ray Ban Jr, Nike Youth, Julbo

Visit our optical department and talk to one of our knowledgeable opticians about kids sunglasses.

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