Because children spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine, studies show that by the age of 18, our eyes and body will have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection of critical importance for children.
Long-term UV damage is known to be a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer of the eye, eyelid or the skin around the eye. Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only the eyes but also the area around the 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.
When looking for sunglasses make sure the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. Many frames will come with a band to help hold the sunglasses in place and prevent loss. You may also choose to buy polycarbonate or trivex lenses since they are more durable and impact resistant which is particularly helpful for active kids.
Children that already wear prescription eyeglasses can consider transition lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses in one. With transition lenses, you don’t need to worry about your child 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.