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Do children need to wear sunglasses?

16 Dec 2022

Do kids need sunglasses

Some facts:

  • Retinal exposure to Ultra Violet Rays (UVR) is associated with cataracts and macular degeneration and both are known to cause vision impairment. Photokeratitis, is a painful eye condition, and another well-known cause of vision impairement secondary to UVR exposure, many skiers may know this as snow blindness.

  • The World Health Organisation suggests that up to 80% of our lifetime’s UV exposure occurs before the age of 18 years and our tamariki are at a higher risk of visual impairment associated with UVR exposure because the lens is initially clear becoming opaque at about 10 years old.

  • Protecting your children can help decrease the potential for serious eye problems later in life. Not only are these problems uncomfortable, but treatment can be expensive. For instance, the cost to remove cataracts can set you back between $3,200 – 5,000.


Here are some basic rules for buying sunglasses and some tips on getting your kids to keep them on:

Look for quality. Good sunglasses will protect your child from 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.

The bigger the better. Wrap around styles that cover the skin provide more protection.

Find sturdy glasses. Make sure the glasses you buy will survive. Look for scratch-proof and impact-resistant glasses. Glass lenses are better avoided, unless recommended by an optometrist. Bendable, unbreakable frames are preferred. Get an elastic band that will help keep the glasses in place.

Get their buy in. It’s your children who have to wear them; make sure you get their opinion on the style and fit.

Do regular checks. Make sure you check the sunglasses from time to time for scratches. Little children may not complain, but scratches may hinder their vision.

Prescription glasses with sun protection. If your child requires prescription glasses, get lenses that will also protect them from UV rays. nib Everyday cover can help cover the cost of optical examinations, glasses and contact lenses. So, if your child isn’t covered and you think they’d benefit from it – get a quote.

Don’t rely only on sunglasses. Sunnies cover the rays coming through the lens. For complete protection, get your child to wear a wide brimmed hat. If you can avoid it, stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm.

Teach your child the importance of wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen the same way as you would teach them to brush their teeth or wear a seatbelt. Regular eye checks are important, and it’s a good idea to talk to your GP or local Optometrist about any concerns you have.

Important things to know

Information correct as at July 2019