Children under age 10 are at a high risk for skin and eye damage from UVR. The skin on their eyelids and around their eyes is more delicate and vulnerable than adult skin, and until about age 10, the lens of a child's eye is clear, allowing greater solar penetration and thus greater UVR—induced ocular changes.
Retinal exposure to UVR is associated with cataracts and macular degeneration, both causes of vision impairment. UVR damage builds over time, so the sooner you start protecting your children's eyes from the sun, the lower their risk will be of ever developing future eye problems. Fortunately, good sunglasses protect both the skin around the eye and the eye itself.
While children under 6 months old should never be exposed to the sun, once they reach 6 months, they should wear sunglasses outside. If they require prescription glasses, they should also wear prescription sunglasses. Keep these rules in mind when buying sunglasses for children:
- Find glasses that block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Buy ones that indicate the percentage of UVR protection they provide. The more skin covered, the better, so look for large, wraparound styles.
- Use playground-proof lenses. Kids run, trip, fall, and bounce off objects at alarming speed. Their sunglasses should match this active lifestyle. Find impact-resistant, scratch-proof lenses that don't pop out of the frames. Avoid glass lenses, unless recommended by a doctor; plastic is safer. Frames should be bendable but unbreakable. Make sure the glasses fit snugly, close to the face.