Do babies need sunglasses?

The answer is yes. Sun exposure can damage your child's eyes, so here's how to protect your little one's future vision

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UV rays can damage the eyes of babies and children, opthalmologists advise.

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They recommend that all youngsters under the age of 10 should wear sunglasses in strong sunshine. But 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 per cent or more of the sun’s UV rays.

Always check the label for the CE mark to show that they are made to an agreed European standard. Look out too for the British standard for sunglasses BSEN 1836:1997.

But if your baby really resists, and tries to pull them off every time you put them on, don’t get stressed. Just make sure your baby wears a hat with a brim or visor. And remember, there are many baby sunglasses, such as BabyBanz and sunglasses from JoJo Maman Bebe, which have a stretchy band that goes gently right round your baby’s head (and is much harder for your baby to take off!).

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Why are babies’ eyes at risk?

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

Estimates vary, but it is thought that between 60 and 80 percent of sun exposure takes place prior to the age of 18.

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

Sonal Rughani, Senior Service Advisor for RNIB (charity supporting blind and partially sighted people), says, “A substantial amount of our exposure to sunlight occurs when we are children.

“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 and cataracts.

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

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