UV rays can damage the eyes of babies and children, ophthalmologists advise – so yes, your baby needs sunglasses in bright sun.
Vik Sharma, of the London Ophthalmology Centre, told MadeForMums: “All children should have their eyes protected from sunlight to prevent not only sunburn to the eyelids but also damage to the internal delicate tissues of the eye itself.
“A young baby’s eyes are still developing and it is even more important to shield the eyes from the harmful sun rays and UV light.
It’s recommend that all children 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.
And remember to 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.
What if my baby keeps taking his/her sunglasses off?
If your baby really resists, and tries to pull their sunglasses 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!).
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 the RNIB (a 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.
“Sunglasses with proper UV protection can make a positive contribution to eye protection in the young.”