Cheap sunglasses are worse than none at all

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Activities: Babies, Health & Safety: Babies

A young girl wearing sunglassesMost parents know that, in order to protect their kids' eyes, kids should wear sunglasses when they're out in the sun. Yes, even eyeballs can get sunburned. In fact, ultraviolet (UV) light can do much worse than just cause a corneal sunburn -- long term exposure can lead to cataracts and retinal and macular degeneration. So, just as you slather your kids in suntan lotion to protect their skin from sunburn, so too should they wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.

The problem is, not all sunglasses are created equally. Even shades that claim to block 100% of UV light may not; non-prescription sunglasses are barely regulated and mislabeling results in a harsh letter from the FDA and... well... that's about it. Ooh, but that letter will be strongly worded. And if a company uses non-specific wording such as "blocks most UV light", they can avoid that unpleasant letter.

Unfortunately, cheap sunglasses that don't actually block UV are actually worse than wearing no sunglasses at all. Because they block visible light, cheap shades cause your eyes to dilate, letting even more UV light in to wreak havoc. That's a bad thing. Full UV protection is very important, but how do you make sure that your kids' sunglasses really do offer the protection they say they do?

One way is to stick with name brands that are more likely to offer the protection they claim. Avoid the cheap, no-name, flea market glasses, even if they say they block UV light. Established brands are probably more interested in protecting their reputation than your kids' eyes, but the result likely the same. Another option is to buy sunglasses from Europe or Australia where they are more closely regulated. In any case, protect those eyes -- you can't get replacements.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.