With summer in full swing, your little ones are ready for fun in the sun! Along with the sunscreen and big floppy sun hat, don’t forget protecting your little one’s eyes is of the utmost importance. We’re here to set the record straight on the top 5 myths about sunglasses.
Children do not need sunglasses.
Sunglasses are not solely a cute fashion accessory. Kids, even more than adults, truly need sunglasses because they are generally more susceptible to UV damage than adults. Kids are more at risk because their pupils are much bigger and the lens inside the eye is clearer, all of which makes it easier for the absorption of UV rays which can lead to long-term retinal damage. This damage, while not as immediate as a painful sunburn, can manifest itself in the form of cataracts or macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness) later in life. For this reason, teaching children to wear sunglasses starting at a young age will establish positive habits that yield benefits into adulthood.
It is only beneficial to wear sunglasses when it’s sunny out.
This is one of the most common myths. People often assume that on a cloudy day there is no need to wear sunglasses. The truth is that UV rays are always present, even on cloudy days! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 70-80% of UV rays (especially the long wave UVA rays) can still cut through the clouds and wreak havoc. Just look at all the people who get sunburned even when there is an overcast sky. So just remember – if the kids are outside, shades on!
Sunglasses is only appropriate during the summer.
Wearing sunglasses during summer is natural, but what about the rest of the year? The fact is UV rays are ever present- rain or shine, even during the cold, bitter winter months. Have you ever been caught without sunglasses when out playing in the snow? The light bouncing off the bright white snow can be quite blinding. It's a common misconception that there is less UV damage to the eyes during the colder months. In the winter, snow can reflect up to 85% of UV rays into the eyes. Beyond the snow, there are other factors that are also working against us. During the fall and winter months, with no foliage on the trees, there is less shade to protect us from direct sunlight. In addition, the sun is actually lower in the sky during these seasons, so instead of shining down on us, light is shining at us at an angle where the UV rays are more likely to get into our eyes. Therefore, sunglasses are key to eye protection, all year round!
Darker tinted lenses provide greater eye protection.
Take your pick, grey lens, brown lens, mirrored lens, or gradient lens. None of these will impact the ability of the sunglasses to protect your little one’s eyes. What truly matters is the material and the UV treatment that is applied to the lens. In fact, it is better to wear sunglasses with a lighter tinted lens with UV protection than dark sunglasses without UV protection. The latter is much more dangerous because when the lenses are darker, one’s pupils are more dilated allowing more light to enter. If there is no UV protection on the lens, then the eyes are more susceptible to UV damage. So regardless of what type of sunglasses you choose, make sure they provide adequate UV protection. When shopping for sunglasses, always make sure to look out for key features such as Category 3 lenses, 100% UVA/UVB protection or UV400 sunglasses.
Polarized sunglasses have 100% UV protection.
While most premium sunglasses now offer polarization in addition to UV protection, it is important to note that the two serve very different functions. UV protection is the very essence of sunglasses, which is to protect one’s eye from UV damage. Polarization, on the other hand, does a great job at reducing glare and improving visibility (to better understand how why polarization is important and how it works – check out this article), but it does nothing to block the UV rays. So just because the lenses are polarized does not mean your little one’s eyes will get adequate protection.
Now that you have the facts about why sunglasses are so important, have fun, good luck and enjoy shopping for those perfect shades!