Do kids really need sunglasses?

June 4, 2010 3:31:13 PM PDT
A flashing globe focuses ten year old Paul Grazide's attention and makes his eye exam easier for pediatric eye Dr. Pamela Gallin.

Like many kids these days, Paul has a pair of sunglasses.

"If he is in the sun all day everyday, it makes sense to wear them," his mom, Karen Grazide, said.

"I think there's a lot of benefit to it. A lot of protective benefit certainly," Paul said.

But is there a benefit? A lot of parents think so, but it may not be so.

Any sun damage to the eyes accumulates over the years of a person's life. For kids, some scientific reports suggest a benefit to limiting exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. But from childhood to adulthood, it's hard to say with certainty that sunglasses prevent problems.

"I am not aware of any good studies of children going forward in high glare situations causing lifetime adult damage," Gallin said.

Use common sense with kids sunglasses, said Gallin. If the sun is bright enough for you to squint and you might put on shades, then they're fine for your kids. For playing in the shade, kids probably will do fine without them.

Sunglasses for kids are big business, but not a business that was around when I was growing up.

Since they are popular now, at least make sure that the kid glasses you buy block ultraviolet or uv light. It should say so on the lens.

Another option is to wear a baseball cap or tennis visor to shade the eyes instead of sunglasses, says Gallin.

And, she said, just use common sense.

"If you have a kid squinting uncomfortable, do something about it. Wear a baseball hat, sunglasses, play in the shade. But a kid playing in the backyard -- do you need sunglasses nailed to their head? Absolutely not," Gallin said.