UV rays can damage the eyes of babies and children, ophthalmologists advise – so yes, your baby needs sunglasses in bright sun.


"All children under the age of 10 – and especially babies – should have their eyes protected from sunlight," says Vik Sharma of the London Ophthalmology Centre, "to prevent not only sunburn to the eyelids but also damage to the internal delicate tissues of the eye itself.

"This is even more important for a young baby, whose eyes are still developing and need shielding from harmful sun rays and UV light.

Sunglasses will not only protect your baby's eyelids but also protect the iris, lens and, most importantly, the sensitive retina
Vik Sharma, London Ophthalmology Centre

Does it matter what kind of sunglasses my baby wears?

Yes, they should be good sunglasses. Don’t be tempted to pick up a cheap pair: your child needs to wear sunglasses with lenses that block out 99% or more of the sun's UV rays.

You should always check the label for the CE mark, too, to show that the sunglasses are made to an agreed European standard. You can also look out for the British standard for sunglasses BS EN 12312-1:2013.

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What if my baby keeps taking his/her sunglasses off?

Yep, we know how it is when your baby spends all day trying to pull their sunglasses off every time you put them on!

We'd say it's a good idea to make sure your baby also wears a hat with a brim or visor, to help with sun protection if the sunglasses come off.

You can also get baby sunglasses that, instead of sidearms, have a stretchy band goes gently right round your baby's head, making it much harder for your baby to take them off. Check out our list of the best sunglasses for babies to see some great options.

Why are babies' and children's eyes at risk in the sun?

The cornea, lens and fluids are clearer in a child's eye than in an adult's. This means more short wavelength light can reach the retina, which can lead to sight problems in later life.

Estimates vary but it is thought that up to 80% of lifetime UV exposure occurs before the age of 20.¹

Children are particularly susceptible to the sun's damaging rays because they typically spend more time outdoors than adults.

"A substantial amount of our exposure to sunlight occurs when we are children," says Sonal Rughani, Optometric Consultant for the RNIB.

"As the leading charity committed to preventing avoidable sight loss, we encourage children to look after their eyes, as excessive exposure to sunlight can potentially damage the eyes and may contribute to the onset of other eye-related conditions such as AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and cataracts in the future.

"Sunglasses with proper UV protection can make a positive contribution to eye protection in the young."

Last reviewed: June 2023


1. Ultraviolet Radiation, Aging and the Skin: Prevention of Damage by Topical cAMP Manipulation Amaro-Ortiz, A et al. Molecules. 2014;19: article 5

Pics: Getty


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Tara BreathnachContent Editor and Social Media Producer

Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015