As a parent, you probably know that you should not expose your baby to direct sunlight without protection. The canopy of the stroller on the road, or the sun sail at home in the garden protects your baby well from the sun.
But as soon as your little one becomes mobile and starts romping around in the sun and also playing on the beach on vacation do the baby or toddler’s eyes need the additional protection of sunglasses made for babies. Those should have the following characteristics:
- Full UV protection
- Child-friendly tinting
- Easy to adjust
Unlike adults, children do not yet have their own natural sun protection. In the first 12 months of life, the eye lens of babies is still transmissive to UV radiation. This allows 90 percent of UVA and 50 percent of UVB radiation to reach the retina. Children also have larger pupils, clearer eye lenses, and brighter eyes than adults. As a result, more UV rays reach the inside of the eye. It is not until the age of about 25 that the human organ of vision can absorb some of the UV radiation from the retina and cornea.
In babies, moreover, the blinking function is not yet fully developed, and thus the reflex to close the eyes to protect against blinding sunlight is not yet fully developed. Only when full UV protection is given the eyes are protected. Darker lenses do not necessarily mean the protection has to be built into the sunglasses of your baby.
With very cheap sunglasses without UV protection behind the dark lenses, the pupils are very large, and even more, harmful radiation hits the eyes. So do your baby good and do not buy baby sunglasses at the first available street stall in the vacation resort or at the local street fair. Buy them at a professional optical shop. You can grab a pair with optimal protection for around 40$.
A Guide to Finding the Perfect Sunglasses for Your Baby
The glasses must fit perfectly, should be robust, scratch-resistant, and shatterproof, and above all protected. The most important thing is that the children’s sunglasses offer 100% UV protection and meet the requirements of the DIN-EN 1836 standard.
Therefore, look for the CE mark on the temple. By the way, the tint of the lenses says nothing about the UV protection, but indicates the glare protection, i.e. the light transmission. A distinction is made here between categories 1 to 4, with 1 being the most light-transmitting and 4 the least. An anti-glare rating of 2 to 3 is recommended for children.
The frame: Good children’s sunglasses are adapted to the shape of the child’s face and head and contain no sharp metal parts. Lenses and frames should completely cover the eyes and have a shape that is as enclosing as possible, preventing sunlight from entering from the sides. The material of the frame should be flexible to withstand some bending of your child. A good and secure fit of the sunglasses is important so that they do not fall off immediately when bending and romping.
There are two major ways to adjust the sunglasses to the head of a baby. There are temples that should be adjustable. In comparison, there are also sunglasses with straps available. No matter which style gets chosen the sunglasses should not produce dents on the side of the head of your child.
As the bone structure is much softer at this stage in life poorly fit sunglasses could produce a permanent dent. Just look at the areas where the sunglasses touch the head and if red areas or dents are still present after you took off the sunglasses. Of course, you can also visit your local optician for a quick check-up.
Involve your child in the selection of sunglasses. Because only if the child likes the glasses. Only then you can be sure that he likes to wear them and feels comfortable with them.
As you can see in the picture below the sunglasses do not fit the baby perfectly. When the sunglasses do not wrap around the head nicely they can leave plenty of space for light rays to still reach the eyes of your kid. This is why it is advised to test to fit more sporty-looking glasses which also cover the temporal sides of the eyes.
Where Should Your Baby Wear the Sunglasses?
Intense solar radiation reflected from sand, snow, water, or asphalt can immediately injure the cornea. The so-called “flashing” becomes noticeable about two to four hours after exposure in an inflammatory reaction that is extremely painful and accompanied by extreme photophobia.
Direct exposure to sunlight can even cause irreversible burns in the eye, similar to focused laser light. The lens of the eye acts as a magnifying glass, amplifying the sunlight. Light-colored eyes have less self-protection than dark-pigmented ones.
What Permanent Damage Can UV Radiation Cause to the Eye?
The sun’s rays can change the proteins in the lens, resulting in lens opacity. Visual acuity decreases and those affected develop cataracts at an early age. In this case, lens implantation helps to correct the cataract and restore visual acuity. The retina can also be permanently damaged by UV rays. It begins to degenerate, which can lead to blindness. The opthalmologist then speaks of macular degeneration.
In our early years, radiation can cause more harm compared to when we already are adults. Over the course of a lifetime, the exposure to UV light could be brought down to 50% with the right protection.