Eye Protection for Kids

As we head out on the trails or paths with our kids for that next long bike ride, we should make sure they are properly protected from the sun. Eye protection for kids may be one of the most overlooked pieces of protective gear. We spend a great deal of time making sure our children are wearing sunscreen while participating in outdoor activities but often overlook the need to protect our children’s eyes from damaging UV rays.  Children spend much more time outdoors than adults, which makes it all that more important to get into the habit of wearing sunglasses at an early age.

Besides the potential danger of ultra-violet rays from sunlight, researchers have suggested that long-term exposure to HEV light rays (blue light) may also cause eye damage over time. Our article will discuss both protection for kids from UV and HEV rays. For more detailed information on HEV rays, visit here.

The two types of UV rays are UVA and UVB.  UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.   The difference between UVA and UVB is how far into the skins epidermal layers they are absorbed.

Photo credit: skincancer.org

Your child’s eyes are more susceptible to UV and HEV radiation than adult eyes because their ocular lenses have not matured. What this means is that your child’s eyes do not do an efficient job of filtering these rays through their retinas. All the more reason to encourage kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible. Areas or environments that have increased exposure to UV rays are: high altitudes, and in highly reflective environments like snow and sand beaches. Protective sunglasses should be at the top of your list for these situations.

Types of Lenses

When it comes to types of lenses for your kids sunglasses; one feature that trumps all others – amount of UV rays blocked.  The color or tint of the lenses do not make any difference for blocking UV rays – you just need to make sure they block as close to 100% if UV rays as possible.  You also want to make sure you are buying your shades from a reputable source to insure they are blocking the amount of rays they are advertising.  Children who wear prescription glasses; we highly recommend discussing eye protection with an Optometrist.  We recommend glasses that advertise UVA, UVB protection.

 Styles of Sunglasses for Kids

We feel the best style of shades are the wrap-around frames that hug close to the child’s face.  This helps to block sunlight form the child peripheral views and also helps block out dust. The most common frame material is plastic and many of the most popular styles that adults wear are available in scaled down versions.  Children who get to pick the style of their glasses tend to wear them more often. We also recommend sunglasses retainers or chords which allow the child to remove them from their eyes but retain them around their neck so they aren’t misplaced and can be easily re-worn.

Uvex eyewear

Wrap-around Sport Style

Retro-style Fashion

Sport-style with Strap

Where to buy sunglasses or eye protection for kids

  • Wee Bike Shop – Childrens bike retailer that carries the UVEX (shown above) line of sunglasses.
  • Real Kid Shades – Specialty retailer that sells multiple styles and types of eye protection for kids.
  • Tactics – Board shop with a cool selection of shoes, boards, and gear for kids and adults.