Lenses, protection index, price… How to choose sunglasses for your children?

Lenses, protection index, price… How to choose sunglasses for your children?
Lenses, protection index, price… How to choose sunglasses for your children?

One in three children do not own sunglasses, even though it is essential to protect their eyes from UV rays from a young age. What criteria should you pay attention to when buying them?

According to an OpinionWay survey for Asnav (national association for the improvement of eyesight) from March 2024, 30% of children do not own sunglasses. An alarming figure when we know that children’s eyes are much more fragile than those of adults.

To ensure that young people maintain good eyesight for as long as possible, it is essential to choose a good pair of sunglasses for them from a young age. But how do you choose them? How much should you pay for them? RMC Conso interviewed Djamel Henni, an optician at the Écouter Voir network in Pézenas, Hérault.

Raising awareness of the importance of sun protection

“As an optician, the first thing we do is to raise awareness among parents, who are not necessarily aware of the importance of sun protection for their children’s eyes,” begins Djamel Henni.

“The crystalline lens, a transparent lens inside the eye that provides a natural UV filter for our eyes, is not fully mature until at least the age of 12. This means that before the age of 12, the eyes let through 75% of UV rays.”

Now, we know that UV rays are just as harmful to our eyes as they are to our skin. The risk of not protecting them properly: developing degenerative diseases such as cataracts or AMD (age-related macular degeneration) in adulthood. We therefore protect our little ones from the first months of their lives.

“When choosing children’s sunglasses, we obviously look at two things: the lenses and the frame, each of which has its own quality criteria,” the optician emphasizes.

Protection index 3 or 4

We choose lenses with a sufficient index, for 100% UV blocking and protection against glare.

“For children, I recommend at least an SPF 3, and ideally an SPF 4, because it absorbs 92 to 97% of light and filters 100% of UVA and UVB rays,” explains Djamel Henni. “At the beach or in the mountains, with the reflection of light, it is essential.”

Beware of a trap, however: just because a lens is dark does not mean it filters UV and light properly. Wearing poor quality glasses with very dark lenses but no filter is even worse than wearing nothing at all, because the tint “tricks” our eyes into thinking they are protected when in fact they are not.

This is why we avoid buying glasses on markets or from unknown brands. In addition to the optician, brands specializing in childcare such as Béaba or Kiddus, or even sports equipment stores, are good alternatives for finding quality glasses.

These brands and stores only offer glasses that meet a second quality criterion: the CE standard.

As with adult glasses, it must be mentioned on one of the arms and guarantees that the frame meets the quality requirements set by the European Union.

“The material of the glass is also important, we mainly use polycarbonate, a plastic material that is very shock-resistant and has natural protection against UV rays,” says the optical professional.

A frame adapted to the morphology

For the frame, the most important thing is that it matches the child’s morphology. It must be enveloping, covering the eyebrows and cheekbones so that the light does not pass either below or above. Since the nasal bridge of toddlers is very thin, a very stable frame is required.

“We can also offer curved lenses, which means that they are not straight, the lens comes closer to the face and this helps to stop the light on the sides. Wide temples can also offer this additional protection.”

In terms of manufacturing material, it is better to turn to soft materials. The presence of silicone will provide comfort and prevent breakage if the child twists the branches.

Last tip from Djamel Henni: a headband that attaches to the back of the head, to prevent the glasses from falling, being lost or being removed too easily by children.

Quality for 30 euros

Price-wise, there’s no need to break the bank: “you can find very good glasses, durable and protective, for 30 euros,” assures the optician.

This can certainly represent a small budget to invest each year, since the child grows and it is important that he always has glasses adapted to his size.

“But it’s such an important reflex to have. You absolutely have to start protecting yourself as early as possible,” insists Djamel Henni.

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