I recently got a question from a concerned mom who wanted reassurance that our sunglasses block harmful rays. She had read something recently that suggested that some sunglasses, if of poor quality or very cheap can actually harm your child's eyes rather than protect them. She didn't cite a source but I was curious. Our sunglasses, while not as cheap as some of the ones you can buy from the discount bin at Walmart are still pretty affordable compared to some adult glasses and I absolutely understood her concern. Even though I knew that we sell high-quality sunglasses, I wanted to look into this claim for myself. So after I reassured her that our lenses do indeed block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays, I did some research and found an interesting Time Magazine article that pointed out something I probably should have thought of before. Tinted sunglasses will block visible light but do not necessarily block invisible and harmful ultra-violet light.
When it's visibly bright out, we squint our eyes and our pupils close up into little pinpoints, restricting the amount of all light, visible or not; but when we put on sunglasses that block only visible light, our eyes relax, our pupils dilate ,and in comes a flood of harmful UV light. In other words, poor quality lenses can make us comfortable, but not safe.
The worrying thing is that for some reason, many manufacturers of baby sunglasses, the ones you can find cheaply in big department stores, don't take eyewear for babies seriously, and design their glasses to be fashionable rather than protective.
The lenses in our babies sunglasses are made of polycarbonate. It's not an expensive material, in fact, it's fairly common, but it naturally blocks 100% of all harmful invisible light. That means that even if you were to make completely clear lenses from this material, it would still protect your eyes. But that's not all because our sunglasses are also polarized. Polarization coatings are designed to cut down on glare so that highly reflective surfaces like water or snow, are more comfortable to look at, but an added benefit is that they also block UV rays. So our sunglasses are doubly protective of your babies eyes.
If you aren't sure if your babies sunglasses block UV light or not, either check with the manufacturer or invest in a new pair. It's even more important that your little one wear high-quality sunglasses than that you do. Dr. Gerhard Cibis, the chief of ophthalmology at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City explains "Infants and children lack pigment in the lens of the eye, which helps filter ultraviolet rays. Thus, more ultraviolet rays reach the retina of a baby than reach the retina of an adult...Cataracts and retinal degeneration of people in their 70's are thought to be aggravated by a lifetime of accumulated exposure to ultraviolet light."
Despite this warning, Dr. Gerhard stresses that parents should not be duped by some unscrupulous manufacturers of baby sunglasses who may try to scare parents by claiming that if their children do not wear protective lens were all the time, that they won't be able to see into adulthood. He offers this sound advice as a good rule of thumb, whenever you put sunscreen on your child, put sunglasses on them.