Sunglasses are considered by many to be a fun accessory; many adults even wear them as fashion statements. While sunglasses can be fun, they serve a very important role as well. Sunglasses protect your eyes! It is important to start children off right by insisting they wear sunglasses to protect their young eyes.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, unprotected sun exposure can contribute to the development of cataracts and cancer. With this in mind, it makes sense to require from an early age that your child wear sunglasses. Children often spend a lot of time outside, making the amount of sun they are exposed to high. Aside from the benefits of protecting young eyes form an early age, requiring that your child wear off white sunglasses will hopefully be the beginning of a lifelong habit of eye protection.
Your approach to choosing sunglasses for your child will vary depending on the child’s age. But for all children, it is best to choose sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV rays or higher. Also, if you don’t already wear them, start wearing sunglasses yourself. In all aspects of parenting, it is wise to model the behavior you want; sunglass wearing is not an exception.
For babies, there are a wide variety of banded sunglasses available. The design is similar to swimming goggles. The band goes around the back of the head and helps keep the glasses in place. The band may not deter older babies from removing the sunglasses, but being persistent and consistently putting sunglasses on your baby will help your cause. Babies and toddlers love routines. Make putting on sunglasses a part of the “going outside” routine every time, and it will become second nature for them.
For older children, it is best to let them choose their own sunglasses, as long as the ones they choose offer the correct amount of sun protection. There are so many fun designs, including popular children’s characters, that it should not be difficult to convince an older child to wear sunglasses.
When choosing sunglasses for children, there are a few things to keep in mind. With all of the running around and playing children do, and the higher likelihood that a child might leave their glasses lying around, it is best to choose a more durable model. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended for children’s eyewear, as this material is more durable than other options. You might also consider some type of band or strap to help prevent your child from losing the sunglasses when they take them off.
Part of your job as a parent is to keep your child safe and help them learn to make good choices. Sunglasses will help protect your child’s vision, and getting them into this habit early will make protecting their eyes a normal part of their life. So, if you have not been mandating that your kids wear shades, start now. It is never too late to develop healthy habits, but the longer you wait the more difficult it will become.