Boy and girl wearing Idol Eyes Australia sunglasses and sun hat

Questions about baby/kids sunglasses and eyes

Idol Eyes Australia blog – All about sunglasses and eyes

Common questions that we receive about baby/kids sunglasses and eyes.

Q1. When should my baby start wearing sunglasses?

All babies should commence wearing good quality sunglasses from birth every time they go outside into the sun. You already know the benefits that good quality sunglasses have in protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays and it is even more important that babies and kids are protected, as babies are born without special UV protective cells within the eye called chromophores. Just take note at the stress your baby endures when they are in the sun. Even with the babies eyelids closed UV rays pass straight through the thin skin and burn your child’s eyes causing cataracts, pterygium, actinic & droplet keratites, pinguecula and macular degeneration, leading to blindness. These nasty eye diseases don’t occur instantly but are caused due to an accumulation of small amounts of damage over many years. One in seven adults over 50 years of age is legally blind in Australia and similar statistics occur world-wide. This is totally preventable just by wearing good quality sunglasses regularly from birth.

Q2. Is it true that babies should only wear sunglasses in the middle of a hot summer day?

False. To fully protect your babies eyes from UV damage, sunglasses need to be worn all year. For example in mid-winter, early or late afternoon the sun is much lower in the sky and is more direct to the eyes causing just as much damage as the midday summer sun. So constant use of sunglasses all year will benefit your child’s eyes greatly.

Q3. Will any sunglasses that pass world standards (AUS/NZ, EU, USA) protect my babies eyes?

No. All 3 major world sunglasses standards are not the same. Here are some of the differences.

  • Only the AUS/NZ standard uses the correct UV light range from 200Nm to 400Nm. In both the EU and USA standard they use 200NM to 380Nm as they believe the sun is not as strong as in Australia. The problem is the UV light between 380Nm to 400Nm is actually 40% of the total UV light so for babies without any chromophores in their eyes (like in adult’s eyes) to protect against UV damage they require 100% UV protection.
  • The latest EU standard has a major error regarding temporal protection for children’s sunglasses. For all adults sunglasses (used for skiing, mountaineering, etc.) with very dark CAT #4 lenses it is compulsory to have temporal protection (side protection) to eliminate any UV light from entering the eyes from the side causing snow blindness. Children’s sunglasses have been neglected with temporal protection requirements. Many European kids sunglasses brands have CAT #4 lenses without side shields. For young children without any chromophores in their eyes to protect against UV like adults, when they wear these sunglasses the pupil dilates and UV light enters through the sides and into wide open eyes leading to major eye problems later in life, even blindness.
  • No world sunglasses standard requires the use of G-15 lens colour. The problem is 10% of boys and 2% of girls are colour blind and using the incorrect colour lenses just compounds their problem. Only Idol Eyes Australia with over 69 years experience in optics understands the importance in making sunglasses that not only protect against UV light but also do not cause problems for colour blind kids. Only a G-15 colour lens is safe for all children, colour blind or not.

Q4. As a young Asian mum my parents don’t recommend me to put sunglasses on my baby, are they correct?

I fully understand your parents concerns regarding sunglasses for babies. Many sunglasses made in Asia today and in the past do not comply with world standards and in the past children wearing inferior sunglasses have had major UV damage caused to their eyes. As can be seen from question 3, even today some sunglasses that do pass world standards can cause major problems. So please follow our complete guide to buying quality children’s sunglasses. Critical points to look for when buying baby – toddler sunglasses. Sunglasses that will protect against harmful UV light damage. The alternative for your baby is to not wear good quality sunglasses from birth to protect the eyes and this will only lead to the increased chance of UV related eye diseases or blindness later in life.

Q5. My baby will not wear sunglasses and just pulls them off, so how do I keep them on?

There are many reasons why a baby will pull the sunglasses off as follows.

  • Don’t use hard frames, they are uncomfortable and leave pressure marks on the face. Only use a soft rubber frame, as babies love to be comfortable.
  • Don’t use the sunglasses inside as the lenses are too dark to see clearly, worrying the baby.
  • Do start your baby wearing sunglasses at an early age. The later you leave it the longer it takes for your youngster to get use to wearing sunglasses.
  • Put your sunglasses on first as babies love to copy and always make it fun.
  • Babies do not understand the harm UV light can do to their eyes but if you place the sunglasses on them when in the sun they quickly realize that they don’t have to suffer the uncomfortable sunlight shining in their eyes.
Boy wearing new combination frame

The danger of mobile devices to eyes

Idol Eyes Australia blog – All about sunglasses and eyes

 

The danger of mobile devices to eyes.

Today we are all obsessed with mobile devices, and with good reason. They inform us, entertain us, keep us in touch with family and friends, and the list just goes on.

The problem, however, is that optometrists are seeing an alarming number of people with severe eye problems caused by these devices. This has prompted the optical profession to research this topic, in turn revealing some really horrible statistics showing that if the trend continues at the current rate up to half the world’s population could be blind with myopia by 2050. In 2000, roughly 25 percent of the world’s population had myopia, a preventable condition that could occur to you or your children. Myopia, or “shortsightedness”, is commonly seen in Asian countries where children spend comparatively more time using close ranged vision. This growing epidemic, which was hardly ever seen in Australia and other western countries, overlaps with the recent trend of mobile devices becoming the new “shut-up toy”, something to keep the kids quiet so mum and dad can get some peace and quiet. Some optometrist are seeing toddlers as young as 4 and 5 years old with eye strain and early on-set myopia caused by many hours of prolonged use on mobile phones and tablets.

So what is myopia and why is it a problem.

Myopia or shortsightedness is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects further away are blurry. It has been shown to occur due to focusing too long on very close objects, a lack of sunlight during the early growing years, plus other factors like genetics. It has always been a progressive eye problem, meaning it continues to get worse until it is impossible to make a corrective lens with enough power to help the patient see, leading to blindness.

So how do you stop this from happening to your child.

We all know that it would be impossible to live in today’s world without these devices due to the benefits they bring, even for toddlers and kids, but as a parent with the knowledge that these devices cause major eye problems it is up to you to set limits on how long they are used. I suggest that everyone (including adults) spends no longer than 10 minutes using these devices and then 10 minutes off. The 10 minutes off does not mean you go from the phone to the tablet or vice versa. This time would preferably be spent outdoors looking far into the distance to relax the strained eye muscle. Surely not too tall an order when you know it could save you or your child’s eye sight.

Solutions to correct myopia currently.

Currently there is no cure. The only solutions at the present time are to wear prescription glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery – keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Both change the shape of the cornea to better focus light on the retina. Note that children are normally limited to prescription glasses only.

What is the future.

For those who cannot be without their devices for even a minute and possibly end up with myopia, there are many universities, scientists and optical professionals all working to find solutions to this problem with some promising early work.

In Hong Kong where myopia has been a problem for some time, they have created special contact lenses with small circular flaws that helps to retrain the eyes. In a university in Israel they are working on using a mobile phone with a special app to take a photo of the eye which then calculates where the problems need fixing. A dye is placed on the eye were the correction is needed, then a solution is dropped onto the eye and adheres to the dye making a temporary correction that fixes the problem. These fixes are not commercially available at this time but with such a large problem and the lure to make money I am sure a remedy will be found.

Better still try to prevent this from happening in the first place. And now that you know this can happen please pass the information on so you can also help others.

References:

  1. mivision – an Australian ophthalmic journal
  2. Insight – an Australian ophthalmic journal
  3. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/short-sightedness-myopia
  4. https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/myopia.htm
  5. https://nei.nih.gov/health/errors/myopia

Next Installment – I will answer questions I have received about baby/kids sunglasses and eyes.

Boy wearing Idol Eyes Australia ski goggles

Blue Light, good or bad?

Idol Eyes Australia blog – All about sunglasses and eyes

 

The truth about blue light.

I am continually asked if the blue light emitted from all modern-day LED devices is harmful to our eyes. With so much *miss-information (*mainly from companies and people trying to sell you blue light blocking products or medicines) there is confusion about blue light and there is a lot of debate about this even among optometrists but what I am going to tell you is what is known about blue light.

What is blue light.

Blue light is classed as the wavelengths of light between 420–500nm (nano-meters). This is within the visible spectrum.

visible light spectrum
visible light spectrum

We know that there is 100 times more blue light from the sun than any consumer LED device. The blue light from the sun is extremely beneficial in setting our circadian rhythm or body clock which affects our sleep, blood pressure and heart rate, hormone secretion, and more. It also naturally suppresses the body’s melatonin production which does boost alertness and attention. Evidence is now associating circadian rhythms with eye growth and refractive error development. So it is imperative not to upset your natural body clock.

The trouble with blue light from LED devices.

Some researchers have shown that blue light at 445nm when the energy is 3 μW (micro-watts) or greater can cause cell damage. But this research was done under laboratory conditions, not on actual living tissue like an eye. And in a healthy human, all living tissue is constantly trying to repair itself.  Electronic devices typically emit no greater than 1 μW, and it has not been shown there is any harm or accumulative effect for such low energies.

So the real problem with LED devices is if they are used at night as the blue light can upset your circadian rhythm or body clock. We know for example night shift workers who do not get enough blue light of a day time to set their circadian rhythm correctly, do suffer from ill-health and a shorter life.

So what should you do about blue light.

If you don’t spend much time out doors of a day and are stuck in front of an electronic device then the small amount of blue light being emitted may actually help to set your circadian rhythm but of a night-time I would suggest that you turn off your devices. Yes, I said turn off your devices. And for all of you who just said, “What, are you crazy?” and cannot be without your device of a night then at least turn down the brightness of your display, push the device further away from your face and turn on a warm white light so the blue light from your device will not upset your natural body clock.

Conclusion on blue light.

Blue light does have real known benefits when received at the correct time, daylight hours. And preferable not received at night so you don’t upset your circadian rhythm.

I would not recommend wearing blue block sunglasses during day light hours (unless advised by an optometrist to do so) as you require the suns blue light to set your circadian rhythm, so that you will have a normal healthy life.

What I have stated is based on information we have today and this may change as we gain more information in the future.

The real dangers are from UV light.

Ultraviolet light is well-known to cause many eyes diseases and skin cancer, so protecting your eyes with good quality sunglasses is essential to prevent long-term exposure to UV light. We know that even small amounts of UV light over time do have an accumulative effect leading to eye diseases such as cataracts, pterygium, actinic & droplet keratites, pinguecula and macular degeneration.

Next installment – The real known danger of mobile devices to eyes.

Idol Eyes Ski Goggles Girl and Boy

Frames and lens colour, what’s best and why?

Idol Eyes Australia blog – All about sunglasses and eyes

Frames, what’s best and why?

Frames are a vitally important part of sunglasses especially for babies and children. They don’t just need to look good they also have to handle the every day punishment that will come their way. They should not break easily. They have to be super comfortable or babies just will not wear them. They must give great UV protection. They should be light weight. This is just some of the criteria we think about each time we design a new sunglasses frame.

With more than 30 years experience making baby sunglasses and even longer making prescription eyewear we have tried all types of materials for the frames. Only a small number of materials pass our strict requirements allowing us to give our legendary 3-year guarantee. So the list is:

  1. Baby sunglasses – Rubber or rubber like materials. These are super comfortable and virtually unbreakable. With the aid of a headband the frame will contour to the shape of the face to eliminate UV rays from entering around the side of the frame.
  2. Toddler sunglasses – Rubber or impact resistant polycarbonate. Rubber has all the benefits mentioned above. Polycarbonate is 10 times more impact resistant than plastic, it is used in banks for its bullet proof qualities and is light-weight for comfort. Can be painted or printed making it a great material that lasts well.
  3. Kids sunglasses – Polycarbonate or optical quality steel. Polycarbonate has all the benefits mentioned above. Optical quality steel allows us to make adult metal styles like aviators or club-masters etc. for kids that will not bend out of shape or break easily.

Lenses, what’s best and why?

Without good quality lenses your just gambling with your child’s eyesight. The consequences are disastrous from terrible eye diseases like cataracts, pterygium, actinic & droplet keratitis, pinguecula and macular degeneration to blindness. Even buying sunglasses that are made to world standards can cause blindness. (See our earlier blog – The dangers of poorly made sunglasses).

Lens material.

We only use A-grade impact resistant polycarbonate. I do suggest that you read our Critical points to look for when buying baby – toddler sunglasses to find out why.

What is an A-grade lens? Firstly you have to understand how a lens is made. To make a good quality lens you firstly have to make a blank lens from “virgin” polycarbonate.

lens blanks
lens blanks

This blank lens allows all of the distortion during cooling, due to “shrinkage” to occur at the outer edge, which is then cut off when the blank is cut into the shape of the frame.

G-15 lens, cut into shape
G-15 lens, cut into shape

This first lens is classed as A-grade. The waste material which has been cut off is usually sent to a waste recycling plant. Due to the nature of polycarbonate (it does not recycle well) this waste is not used to make more lenses. But some companies in order to make a higher profit do recycle this waste material to make more lenses. This second made lens is classed as B-grade. I have heard that the waste material from this B-grade lens is recycled again to make C-grade and recycled again to make D-grade lenses. Recycling sounds great, right? The problem is polycarbonate is extremely impact resistant and the extra heating and cooling during the injection process makes the lens extremely brittle. All B-grade lenses will over a short period of time show signs of “crazing”, the term used to describe this. You can see this crazing in the lens in certain light, small web-like miniature cracks all over the lens. While C and D-grade lens can even show this “crazing” when new. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is again true but not always, I have also seen really expensive sunglasses “craze” as well. Normally by brands that have no knowledge of how a pair of sunglasses are made, they try to buy the lowest price they possibly can, so they can make a large profit. Then they sell their really cheap product at a high price so the consumer will be mislead into believing the quality should be good. This crazing reflects shards of light into the eyes of the wearer making these sunglasses extremely uncomfortable and dangerous to wear.

Lens colour.

Another important aspect of lenses is the colour and also the darkness which will determine the amount of light that the lens will transmit. We know that 10% of all boys and 2% of girls are colour blind and if you buy sunglasses with the incorrect colour for these kids you compound the difficulties for them to distinguishing and learn colours. So unless your child has been tested for colour blindness or you simply want the best colour lens to reduce glare and not distort colour only one colour lens will achieve this. That colour is known as G-15. G, for neutral green and 15, for 15% light transmittance. Why do we only suggest neutral green? Simply this colour is in the middle of the visible light spectrum as seen in the in the colour chart below, which causes less distortion in all colours of the rainbow.

visible light spectrum
visible light spectrum

If you pick a lens in the lower end of the spectrum, say a blue or grey lens, these will distort colour in the higher end of the spectrum, red and yellow. And the exact same thing happens if you pick a lens in the higher end of the spectrum, say a red or yellow lens, these will distort colour in the lower end of the spectrum, blue or violet.

Lens category.

This refers to the darkness of the lens and an indication of what the sunglasses are intended to be used for. For all general purpose sunglasses we recommend category 3 or cat #3. Please see our earlier blog, The dangers of poorly made sunglasses. This does go into depth about lens category with a chart of the different categories and the intended use. It also points out the dangers of buying sunglasses with the incorrect category that are not made correctly.

 

If you have any questions or comments regarding any of our blogs or you need specific information please leave these in the,  “Leave a comment” and we will answer these as soon as possible.

Girl wearing Idol Eyes Australia ski goggles

The dangers of poorly made sunglasses

 Idol Eyes Australia blog – All about sunglasses and eyes

 

Some of the dangers of poorly made sunglasses.

Many baby and children sunglasses brands being sold today are by well-meaning mums and dads that have no experience in optics. They normally fall in love with the cuteness of the product but without any optical knowledge make fatal mistakes in their designs and lens quality that can be detrimental to the health of your children’s eyes, leading to blindness. We will point out some of the dangers of poorly made sunglasses.

Please never buy “toy sunglasses”.

They don’t provide any UV light protection and the lenses material is soft and distorted, blurring the vision. They will also scratch easily causing the eye muscle (ciliary muscle) to constantly work to correct the distortion or scratch, which is impossible leading to the early wearing of prescription glasses.

Don’t buy non-labeled sunglasses.

You would think that with tough sunglasses standards in most countries that this would be enough to stop harmful sunglasses from entering the market. But we still see many well-known baby and children sunglasses brands being sold that don’t comply with the standards or are not tagged correctly with the compulsory standard number for your country. Simply don’t buy any sunglasses unless they are tagged or have the correct labeling with the sunglasses.

Even correctly labeled sunglasses can be dangerous.

  • Category # 4 lenses without side shields.

Even some sunglasses that are made to the European standard can cause major eye problems leading to blindness due to an error in the EN ISO 12312-1:2013+A1:2015 standard. In the EN standard, section 11.2 it specifies the Temporal Protective Requirements (side shields) for cat # 4 very dark special purpose sunglasses. All the sizes and positioning of the shields for adult’s sunglasses are given. But for some unknown reason the following was added for children’s sunglasses with cat # 4 lenses. “Note. Children benefit from sunglasses with temporal protection but in the absence of data, no dimensions are published in this edition of the standard.” This has been misinterpreted by some European brands to mean temporal or side shields are not required on children’s sunglasses with cat # 4 lenses and this is wrong. It should have said that “in the absence of data, scale the dimensions to suit” or the data should have been included so there would be no doubt that temporal protection is required on children’s sunglasses with cat # 4 lenses.

Many European brands promote the myth that the higher the category number or (CAT #) the better the quality. This is false. The category number or (CAT #) is only meant to indicate the intended use for the lens shade. The category numbers or (CAT #) are as follows in the chart:

Categories of lens filters
Categories of lens filters

As you can see from the chart, cat # 0 and 1 are not sunglasses and should never be purchased as sunglasses for your children as they have no sun-glare protection and limited UV protection. Even cat # 2 should be avoided as the lenses are still to light to give good sun-glare protection. Cat # 4 lenses are for special purpose only, recommended uses are skiing, mountaineering, etc. where there are excessive amounts of sun-glare that require very dark tinted lenses. These lenses only allow between 3 to 8 % of light to pass through the lens so if worn for normal everyday use your toddler will not be able to see clearly. These sunglasses also require side shields as the lenses are so dark the pupils dilate (open) and any gaps between the frame and the face allows more UV light to enter the open eye.

Dangerous CAT 4 lens with no side shields
Dangerous CAT 4 lens with no side shields

The above photo clearly shows a European brand with cat # 4 lenses and no side shields. Note that the temples or arms are very narrow so there is limited side protection from UV light entering a very wide-open pupil. This model is also designed to be worn upside down and this leaves a large gap above the bridge (nose) where UV light can enter a wide open eye. If your children have a pair of sunglasses with cat # 4 lenses and no side shields please stop using them, they will only cause major eye problems and lead to blindness. And don’t ever use them on the snow fields or your child will suffer from snow blindness.

Therefore, we only recommend you buy cat # 3 lenses for everyday use.

  • UV protection and the EN and USA standards.

Both the European Standard – EN ISO 12312-1:2013+A1:2015 and the USA Standard – ANSI Z80.3:2015 only classify UV light from 200nm up to 380nm not the real 400nm. This means they neglect UV light between 380nm – 400nm, this missing 20nm is 40% of the total UV light. So, when they claim 100% UV protection they mean 60% UV protection. Not good enough for babies or kids.

Some European and USA brands have seen this problem of the missing 20nm of UV light and then claim their lenses are UV400 or 100% UVA or 100% UVA and B. None of this type of labeling is mentioned in any standards and my concerns are:

  1. If the lenses are UV400 at what level of UV do these lenses start cutting UV light?
  2. If the lenses are 100% UVA what about UVB or UVC?
  3. If the lenses are 100% UVA and B what about UVC?

Remember babies require total UV protection as they have no chromophores in the eyes that protectively absorbs harmful UV rays.

Next installmentframes and lens colour, what’s best and why?