Sunglasses for children: More than just a fashion accessory

UV rays not only attack the skin, but can also damage the retina in the eye. And because children’s eyes are particularly susceptible, your offspring should always wear sunglasses when the sun is shining.

Do not underestimate the dangers of UV rays for children’s eyes

No question, sunlight has many positive effects on us humans. It stimulates cell formation, strengthens the immune system and improves performance. But without sufficient sun protection, UV radiation from the sun can damage our health. Not only the skin is affected, but also the eyes. Glare and UV radiation can cause many eye ailments in the long term. Children are even more at risk than adults because their eyes are not yet fully developed. For example, they have larger pupils and lighter lenses than adults, which can cause more UV rays to enter the eye and damage the retina. Nathalie Gümmer from Apollo-Optik and Kerstin Kruschinski from Kuratorium Gutes Sehen e.V. summarise the most important points on the subject of sun protection for children’s eyes in seven points:

➤ Why must children’s eyes be protected from the sun?

Although UV rays in sunlight are invisible to humans, they can be felt when they hit the skin and eyes unhindered. If our eyes are exposed to higher doses of light for a longer period of time, important structures in the eye are endangered – often resulting in diseases. Although our eyes have self-protection mechanisms, such as the reduction of the pupil when exposed to light, these alone do not provide sufficient protection. This is particularly true for children’s eyes, as they are not yet sufficiently developed to protect the sensitive retina by pupil changes. Accordingly, children’s eyes must be protected and wear sunglasses with sufficient UV protection when exposed to strong sunlight, as they are particularly sensitive to this radiation.

➤ Do babies already need sunglasses?

Babies normally manage without sunglasses, as their parents should not expose them to direct sunlight anyway. They are adequately protected by a light cap with an umbrella or the roof of the pram. Infants who play on the beach, for example, should be equipped with sunglasses and a cap.

Protect baby skin from the sun

➤ When should sunglasses be worn?

It is recommended that you always wear sunglasses outdoors when the sun is shining. This is because concentrated radiation incident from the side is more harmful than UV radiation incident on the cornea from the front. In particular, UV rays reflected by water, sand, snow or road surfaces can therefore penetrate the eye unhindered and damage it.

➤ What distinguishes good sunglasses for children?

When buying sunglasses, you should always make sure that they comply with the basic safety requirements of European directives as a first step. This is the case if the sunglasses have a CE mark.

In addition, you should always consult an optician, because you should also pay attention to the quality of the lenses and the UV-400 protective filter. Filters with a UV-400 label block all UV rays in the UVA, -B and -C ranges and therefore offer particularly good protection. The fit is also crucial when buying glasses: make sure that the glasses fit well and do not slip off your head. The temples should securely grip the ear without pinching it. Anatomically shaped nose bars and nose pads with a large contact surface ensure a secure fit on small noses. The child sunglasses should also be large enough so that no light can enter from above or from the side. For very young children it is also advisable to wear a hat / cap.

➤ How dark should the lenses of the sunglasses be tinted?

Tinted lenses protect children’s eyes from glare from the sun. How much light is kept off can be seen from the glare protection category. Moderately dark lenses of category 2 are sufficient for our regions. If you are on holiday in the mountains or on the beach, parents should choose darker glasses of glare protection category 3. If there is no corresponding information on the inside of the glasses, the optician can help. But beware: The degree of tinting says nothing about UV protection!

➤ Do good sunglasses for children have to be expensive?

Price is not always the deciding factor. It is important that the sunglasses bear the CE mark and the UV-400 sticker. There are also cheap sunglasses that are available for less than 20 Euros and offer optimal protection.

➤ Are there current trends in children’s sunglasses?

The trend is also towards colour blocking for children’s glasses. Attracting attention is the motto. From girl’s pink to bright colours in blue, green and red, everything is wearable. More discreet models with playful details are also in demand. In the case of children’s sunglasses not only the frame of the sunglasses is often colourful, the lenses are also available in mirrored or various colours. Here however the following is to be considered: Only with brown, green or grey sunglasses can children still recognise traffic light colours and traffic signs with sunglasses. But when buying sunglasses for children, it should always be quality before design. This is why it is always best to consult a trained optician.

sunglasses for children

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