Are your kids wearing sunglasses?

by Mama Chocolate on July 25, 2012

I was privileged recently to get to sit in on a session with The Vision Council and learned some valuable information about the effects of UV rays on my kids’ vision and how to protect their sensitive eyes.

Did you know that in a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. adults, 73 percent of parents wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from ultraviolet radiation, but only 58 percent have their children wear sunglasses? The 58% actually surprised me a bit, I kind of thought it would be less…here in Oregon anyway, I rarely see sunglasses on kids when we’re out.

There’s a good reason for that, of course.

If you’ve ever given your child (especially a toddler) a pair of sunglasses, you know just how fast they are taken off, broken and/or lost.

It’s hard as a parent to want to invest the cost and the hassle of keeping your kids wearing sunglasses, but after listening to this session, I’m convinced it’s worth it!

Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, an optometrist in Alexandria, Va., and  a member of the Better Vision Institute and Jamie Shyer, a chairman to The Vision Council, explained how our children are particularly susceptible to UV damage:

Children receive three times the annual sun exposure of adults and research shows that their young eyes are especially susceptible to UV-related harm.

UVA and UVB rays are constantly penetrating the Earth’s surface, leaving unprotected eyes exposed to harmful radiation. Although it’s commonly misperceived that UV rays are only out during sunny days, they are actually present throughout the day – no matter the season or weather.

Even a small amount of unprotected exposure is dangerous. UV exposure adds up over time and can lead to serious health problems as you and your children age. That’s why it’s increasingly important to have sunglasses handy at all times.

Unlike the mature lens of an adult eye, a child’s lens cannot filter out UV rays and so more radiation reaches the retina. Decades of sun exposure make older eyes much more prone to visual problems and disease from the cumulative damage of UV radiation.

It is, therefore, extremely important to buy a pair of UV-protective sunglasses from a reputable retailer, and use them!

I’m almost sure that these sunglasses I had already for our girls are not UV protective, so I’ve been doing some research on how and where to find better-quality ones.

Important Factors to Consider When Purchasing Sunglasses for Children

  • Check to make sure they are UVA and UVB protective. This doesn’t necessarily make them super expensive. I have found several stylish options online for around $10.
    (To double check if the style is reliably UV protective, look for a little sticker or tag on the lens that shows compliance with criteria set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The label “UV 380″ covers all UVA and UVB rays.) 
  • Make sure they are the right size and will be comfortable – sunglasses that pinch or are too tight around the ears are going to be taken off quicker.
  • If your child is old enough to care, let them help pick out the style, making it more likely that they will keep them on!
  • Consider styles with a rubber, strap-on band for younger babies or kids more likely to knock them off or lose them regularly.
  • Consider polarized lenses. They work exceptionally well at filtering out reflected glare from shiny surfaces like water and pavement and are therefore especially nice to have if you spend a lot of time at the beach or pool. (I love my polarized lenses for driving!)
  • The Vision Council’s website is also full of useful information about sunglasses, lenses, tints and frames.

*Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by The Motherhood on behalf of The Vision Council and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate.

All opinions expressed are my own.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina Radke July 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

Such great tips, I forget to have my little one wear his a lot, thanks for the important info. I will start remembering more know knowing how important it really is to protect little eyes :)


Whitney Jordan July 26, 2012 at 9:44 am

Wow – I didn’t realize a lot of the things that you shared! Kynlee has about 5 pairs of sunglasses but she is just now getting to where she’ll leave them on for longer then 10 seconds. Hehe. I’m going to make more of a conscience effort to encourage her to wear them whenever we’re outside!


Danielle H July 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thanks for sharing all these great tips. Both of my girls are very sensitive to sunlight so they always are wearing sunglasses, but I will definitely be more cautious to buy ones that have proper UV protection.
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Brittney Minor July 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I just recently learned about how important sunglasses are for kids while doing a review for Real Kids Shades! SO glad I am realizing this now while my kids are still little!
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Shell Fruscione July 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I REALLY need to start making Shane wear his. He has them & I offer them a lot and a lot of the time he actually wears them- but they do come off after a minute or two. It’s pretty annoying, but I’d rather deal with that than eye damage for my poor kiddo.


Denise November 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

No, my kids do not wear them. Sunglasses block rays that are critically important for eye health. Sunglasses are relatively new – think people wore them for the last ten thousand years?

From Mercola:

Exposure to sunlight might stop children from becoming near-sighted. Researchers have found that the amount of time children spend outdoors is a critical factor in developing myopia.

A comparison of children of Chinese origin living in Singapore and Sydney, Australia, showed that the rate of myopia in Singaporean children is 10 times higher. But the children in Sydney spent significantly more time in near-work activity such as reading books, which has long been held to be the principle cause of myopia.

However, the Sydney-based children were also outside almost four times longer than their Singapore counterparts.

Exposure to sunlight may cut myopia rates by encouraging the release of dopamine, which is known to inhibit eye growth; myopia is a condition caused by excessive eye growth.


Sandra Brower November 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I have such sensitive eyes that I always have a pair on which is probably why my kids have always worn a pair as well. I have known about the UV dangers for awhile so it just made since to me that the kids should wear them as much as I do. I have a space on the key hanger for several pair so they are always right by the door. I have pairs and pairs laying around and in the truck and the car so there is always an extra pair around if someone forgets.


Jodi M. November 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

Great tips. My kids all have sunglasses, but I haven’t been very adamant about them actually WEARING them. I’m going to have to reconsider my views. Unfortunately (fortunately?) in the pacific northwest, we don’t have an over-abundance on sun most of the year.


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