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At a recent baby expo a young mother told me she will only buy cheap sunglasses for her children as all sunglasses are the same. Her reasoning was that they all must pass the compulsory sunglasses standards, and as her children are rough they will only break them.
However, it is false to believe that all sunglasses are the same. What she did not realize is that all world sunglasses standards are only the minimum requirements needed so that no major harm occurs to the eyes (Maximum protection is not a requirement). Additionally, some sunglasses can still cause trouble despite passing world standards (see our warning note at the top of this page: Some European brands of children’s sunglasses with category # 4 lenses can cause blindness).
UV protection limitations
Even the strictest sunglasses standard in the world, AS/NZS 1067.1:2016 from Australia, can have as low as 0% UVA protection, depending on the lens category and general purpose sunglasses with category #3 lenses can pass the standard with only 91% UVA protection as the following table shows. Note that both the EU and USA standards are worse as they neglect all UVA radiation from 380nm to 400nm.
For young children the minimum UV requirements are just not good enough to give maximum protection. At this age total protection is needed to stop nasty UV related eye diseases.
Easily broken sunglasses permitted
What this mum also did not realise is there’s no requirements for manufacturers to use materials that will not break easily, and cheap materials do break. I have even seen sunglasses at discount stores, markets and pharmacies broken while on display even before kids wear them. So, yes some kids are rougher than others but giving them sunglasses that break easily does not help. She may as well just put her money in the bin because that is where these so-called cheap sunglasses will go in short time, saving her nothing in the long run.
Lens colour, no requirements
There are also no requirements on lens colour in all world sunglasses standards and this is a critical misstep. As 10% of boys and 2% of girls are colour blind and the incorrect coloured lens only compounds the problem. Many parents will be quick to say that their child is not colour blind, but unless you have had them tested there is no other way to know. Only one colour lens gives maximum clarity and glare protection in addition to being safe for colour blind kids. This is the G-15 lens, and you should only buy sunglasses with these lenses for your children. “G” for neutral green and 15 for 15% light transmission, which falls under category #3 general purpose sunglasses. Unfortunately the two most commonly used lens colours in sunglasses are grey (never great for clarity and affects some colour blind kids) and brown (reasonable for clarity but useless for glare protection and adversely effects the largest number of colour blind kids).
So how do you buy a good quality pair of sunglasses that will protect eyesight, last without breaking too easily, and not cost a fortune? Please read our Critical points to look for when buying baby – toddler sunglasses. This will help, but buying sunglasses is a difficult thing to get right. We do test many branded and non-branded sunglasses and only a small number pass what we classify as good quality.
I can say with certainty that only Idol Eyes Australia has made baby sunglasses since 1987 when we made the world’s first baby sunglasses, and we also have a history in optics since 1950. We have sunglasses for every stage of your child’s growth, from 0 yrs to late teens. And our sunglasses are always reasonably priced so every child will be properly protected.
We receive many reviews from happy customers from all around the world saying that they only trust the Idol Eyes Australia brand, and continue to buy our sunglasses as their children grow into that next size or for more kids as their family grows. We are also grateful for the many customers who have recommend our products to their family and friends. Recently at a baby expo in Brisbane we had a new mum come to our stand with her daughter in the pram wearing a pair of our baby sunglasses. The baby looked really cute. I was then told by the mum that the sunglasses were the pair that she wore when she was a baby. Now that really is high praise.
This blog will teach you about polarized lenses – the good and the bad.
What is polarized light.
Polarized light occurs when scattered light reflects off any flat horizontal shiny surface such as water in a lake, a car windscreen, sand, snow, concrete and asphalt roads. Glare or polarized light reduces visibility, distorts colour and makes vision uncomfortable and painful. It has not been shown to cause eye problems.
In theory polarized lenses should be better than plain lenses but in reality that is not always the case. Low quality polarized lenses can cause headaches, distort vision and lead to eye problems and blindness. Note that polarized lenses are no better or worse than plain lenses at eliminating harmful UV radiation, just make sure you only buy sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
How polarized lenses are made.
Low quality polarized lenses.
Really low quality polarized lenses are made from laminating the polarized film (a very soft PVA material that is heated and stretched to form long chain molecules, causing them to align in one direction) is then sandwiched between thin sheets of acrylic or acetate. These cheap polarized lenses scratch really easy and have distortion due to the thin lens distorting the polarized layer which causes headaches and eye fatigue, a common problem reported by many customers. Due to the distortion and low quality polarized sheet material used in these lenses they have been known to only cut as little as 30% of the reflected glare. These lenses should always be avoided, especially for children who are harder on sunglasses.
High quality polarized lenses.
High quality polarized lenses start with the same process of heating and stretching a soft PVA material to form long chain molecules, causing them to align in one direction. But done very accurately with high quality material so it can eliminate all polarized glare. This polarized sheet is then laminated between two high quality polycarbonate lenses or glass lenses. To avoid distortion of the polarized sheet the finished lenses should be around 2mm thick for polycarbonate. Don’t buy thinner lenses they will cause headaches and eye fatigue, a common problem reported by many customers. Of cause these high quality polarized lenses do cost more.
Eye sight is important and low quality polarized sunglasses that will damage eyesight cost similar to high quality plain lenses sunglasses that will protect eyesight. So buy the high quality plain sunglasses. If you can afford the high quality PC polarized sunglasses that will eliminate reflective glare, then buy these. To give you an indication of the price on high quality adult PC polarized sunglasses, these normally start at A$140.00 up to A$700.00 or higher depending on the brand. Our Idol Eyes Australia baby polarized sunglasses using the same high quality PC polarized lenses start at A$95.00 Any prices lower than I have indicated will only be low quality polarized and should be avoided if you care about eye health.
Myths about polarized lenses.
Polarized lenses are made with a polarized coating. No, totally false.
Polarized lenses cut more UV radiation than plain lenses. No, not necessarily. Polarization has nothing to do with UV radiation. (Polarized lenses help eliminate polarized light or glare.)
Polarized sunglasses are better than plain sunglasses. No, it firstly depends on the quality. But if both are high quality, the polarized lens will eliminate that horrid glare.
If you have any questions or require more information about this or any other sunglasses related matters please contact us via our contact page.
One of the things that sets us apart from our competitors is our testing procedure. Not only do we test our sunglasses to all international sunglasses standards, we make sure they exceed all the standards. This is so we can offer features that we believe are extremely important for children’s sunglasses like full 100% UV protection – because children’s eyes don’t filter UV rays like adult’s eyes, true G-15 lens colour – because this is the only colour lens that has no loss in clarity and no colour distortion even for colour blind kids, and impact resistant A-grade polycarbonate lenses. The following video shows just how impact resistant our lenses are with this drop ball test. Blink and you’ll miss the steel ball being shot into the lens. To pass this test the lens can not crack or break and the lens must stay fixed in the frame.
We then go that extra step to make sure our sunglasses will give you value for money using materials that will take all the punishment kids will hand out. In addition, we make sure that all the materials used in making our sunglasses are non toxic because we know babies will always start chewing on them. There is no sacrifice in style either, for example we make some really pretty models that we print with roses and other flower designs that are heat transferred on to the frames. We know the frames and the dyes used in the printing are all non-toxic but we don’t think its good for babies to eat this printed material if it peels off. So we subject these sunglasses to a cross-cut test so we are confident it will not peel. The following video shows the cross-cut test being performed.
This following impact test is not an international standard sunglasses test but we don’t want our sunglasses frames to break or the lenses to pop out easily so we perform this impact test by dropping a one kilogram steel block – 100mm on to the frame.
On our Baby, Tiny Tots range of sunglasses we also carry out a torque test, where the temples are rotated 90 degrees to each other, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, performing 100 cycles. The following pictures show how this test is done. To pass this test the frame can not break or the lenses can not pop out.
This following oven ageing test is also not a part of any international sunglasses standard but in the real world sunglasses might be left on the dashboard of a car in the midday summer sun so we carry out this test over 7 days in an oven set at 70 degrees. We then inspect the sunglasses for blemishes and flaws and subjected them to a number of further tests.
There are many more test that we apply to our sunglasses but we don’t want our competitors to know all our secrets of how we stay the world’s best baby and kids sunglasses manufacturer.
As you can see from some of our testing procedures we really put our sunglasses under many different conditions because we know some kids will put them under similar stress.
When we test other brands and non-branded sunglasses we still see many that don’t even pass the compulsory international sunglasses standards. And when testing to our standard most fail all or most tests with only a very small number of brands that come close.
It’s this extra attention to detail that makes us the leading supplier of high quality baby and kids sunglasses in the world. Don’t your kids deserve the best?
Idol Eyes Australia blog – How UV rays damages young eyes.
I originally intended for this blog to be an easy read for young mums and dads explaining the need to protect young eyes from harmful UV radiation damage. Hence the simplicity of the blog and the terms used so far. Recently I have received emails asking for more information about how UV rays damages young eyes. Luckily there has been a lot of scientific study on this topic.
The main point remains true, the only way to protect the eyes from harmful UV radiation is by wearing good quality sunglasses from birth.
How UV rays damage young eyes.
The human eye is exquisitely sensitive to light (i.e., visible radiant energy), and when the eye is dark-adapted, the retina can detect only a few photons of blue-green light. It is therefore not at all surprising that ocular tissues are also more vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) and light damage than the skin. For this reason, humans have evolved with certain anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits that protect this critical organ from the intense overhead solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) when we are outdoors during daylight. For example, the UV exposure threshold dose for photo-keratitis (“welder’s flash” or “snow blindness”) – if measured as falling on a horizontal ground surface, would be reached in less than 10 minutes around midday in the summer sun.
Diagram 1 shows that the cornea transmits radiant energy only at 295nm and above. Therefore all UV below 295nm is absorbed by the cornea. 92% of UV radiation at 300nm and 37% of UV from 340nm to 360nm is also absorbed by the cornea. (All this absorbed UV in the cornea can cause pterygium, actinic & droplet keratites plus pinguecula). The aqueous humor then absorbs some UV before reaching the lens. The crystalline lens absorbs almost all incident energy wavelengths of 300nm to nearly 400nm. (All this absorbed UV in the lens causes cataracts plus hardening and yellowing of the lens). But in youth, a very small amount of UV-A reaches the retina, note the lens becomes more absorbing with age. Thus, there are intraocular filters that effectively filter different parts of the UV spectrum and allow only in the order of 1% or less to actually reach the retina, except in children under 9 years. Nevertheless, this small fraction of energy (if photo-toxic) could still be of concern. Finally, oblique rays entering the eye from the temporal side, can actually reach the equatorial (germinative) area of the lens.
Diagram 2 clearly displays how 2-5%* of UV rays at 320nm reach the retina of children under 9 years, while none of these more dangerous UV rays reach the retina of older age groups. *Note the large variation of 2-5% UV rays at 320nm reaching the retina, this is due to the large variation of age in this group. Roughly babies will have 5% UV rays reaching the retina while a 9-year-old will receive 2%. From 10 years of age this 1-2% of UV rays above 340nm still reaching the retina will diminish to 1% by age 30 and less than 1% by 60-70 years.
Diagram 3 indicates that from age 10 until young adulthood vision should be good. Very little UV is reaching the retina but still around 48% of UV rays from 320nm to 400nm are entering the lens of the eye. These UV rays reaching the lens of the eye causes cataracts, hardening and yellowing of the lens making focusing a problem leading to prescription eyewear at around 40 to 45 years.
In Diagram 4 (age 60-70) there are clear signs of UV damage and yellowing of the cornea, with the lens now restricting the amount of visible light reaching the retina. Visible light at 400nm has gone from 15% down to 1%, and visible light at 460nm has gone down from 65% down to 40%. This makes seeing in the dark harder, resulting in the need for really bright lights to read.
How UV energy is absorbed – the magic of the chromophore.
For optical radiation to have an effect on matter the radiation needs to be absorbed, i.e.the radiant energy needs to be transferred to the material in which the effect is to occur. Two main mechanisms can be distinguished through which the absorbed radiant energy can take effect:
a) Heat: radiant energy is converted into molecular motion (kinetic energy) such as vibration, rotation and translation. Thus the temperature is increased (photo-thermal effect). Here, the radiant energy (measured in Joules, J) absorbed per unit time (s) in a certain volume determines the rise in temperature, i.e. the absorbed radiant power (J/s = Watt, W) per unit volume (m3) or the (specific) absorption rate (W/m3) is the determining factor (next to how fast the absorbing volume is cooled by heat exchange with its environment).
b) Photo-chemistry: radiant energy can cause excitation of atoms or molecules by moving the outermost (valence) electrons to higher orbital energy levels. This energy can subsequently be utilized in (photo-) chemical reactions, yielding “photo-products”. The radiation needs to be within a certain wavelength range (the “absorption band”) for the excitation to take place as the radiant energy is absorbed in discrete quanta, “photons”, which must match the energy required for the excitation. The (part of the) molecule that absorbs the radiation is dubbed the chromophore.
Of the three types of optical radiation, UV radiation is photo-chemically most active (the photons carry the highest energy), and it is absorbed by certain common chromophores in organic molecules (e.g. C=O, C=S and aromatic rings; the latter are abundantly present in DNA (Figure 1)). Clearly, light is also photo-chemically active in the eye: visual perception starts with the photo-isomerisation of opsin proteins (in G-protein coupled receptors which trigger the neural signalling).
Protecting the eyes from UV rays is easy and does work.
The majority of UV damage to eyes is caused by an accumulation of small amounts of damage over many years. Just by wearing a good quality, close fitting pair of sunglasses with 100% UV protection when outdoors, you can eliminate your chance of getting UV related eye diseases. And yes, this does work, I know of people in their seventies who have protected their eyes with sunglasses every-time they are outdoors, and whose eyes show no signs of UV related ageing, retaining 20/20 vision so they don’t even need prescription eyewear to see.
PS. As you can understand after reading this post the eyes do everything they possibly can to avoid blindness by absorbing UV rays so the UV does not reach the retina. But this comes at a cost which I have just gone through. The absorption of UV rays in the vitreous by the chromophores, breaks down the normal jelly like structure to a more liquid structure. This then allows for a “vitreous detachment“, were the vitreous pulls away from the retina and in some people can cause the retina to tear with possible loss of sight. This vitreous detachment starts to occur in adult’s at 50 years plus, so as someone who wore sunglasses regularly (but not while surfing) I was lucky to have an extra 10+ years before this happened to me. So follow my advice below:
The simple process of wearing a good quality pair of sunglasses from birth every-time your outside in the sun is the only way to avoid UV rays from damaging your eyes.
Why a pram can be a babies worst enemy is because when they don’t have any UV protection in their eyes (chromophores) like adults, they are laying down in a pram looking up at the sun. Even when they get a little older and are sitting up in a pram they can receive up to 3 times more UV rays in a pram than an adult standing up. Especially if the pram is low to the ground and facing forward. Even bringing the cover or hood over, only makes it worse as UV rays bounces of hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete or even water and then gets trapped under the hood and due to the shape of most covers the UV rays concentrate on the babies head.
So what should you look for in a pram that will give the best possible UV protection for your baby’s eyes.
a high pram – to stop UV from bouncing up off the ground and into the pram.
a large hood – to stop the sun’s rays from entering into the pram.
have the pram reversed as often as possible so when you are pushing the pram you can use your body to shelter the baby from the opposite side to the hood.
a matt, dark coloured pram will also reflect less sunlight into your babies eyes.
and when your toddler is sitting in a pram facing forward you should also have an extra UV protective shade cloth draping down the front. Not too dark so they can still see out.
also wearing good quality sunglasses when in the pram will eliminate even more UV rays from damaging your baby’s eyes.
By following these tips you will reduce the chance of your child ending up with unwanted UV related eye disease like cataracts, pterygium, actinic & droplet keratites, pinguecula and macular degeneration, leading to blindness later in life.
Common questions about baby/kids sunglasses and eyes
Here you can read some of the questions about baby/kids sunglasses and eyes and learn how to protect little eyes and avoid UV radiation damage. If you have any questions please leave them in the “Leave a comment” at the end of this blog.
Q1. When should my baby start wearing sunglasses?
All babies should begin 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 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 radiation 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 rays between 380Nm to 400Nm is actually 40% of the total UV radiation so for babies without any chromophores in their eyes (like in adult’s eyes) to protect against UV damage they need 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 rays 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 rays 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 71 years experience in optics understands the importance in making sunglasses that not only protect against UV radiation 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 about 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 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 radiation 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 rays 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.
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. So what is the danger of mobile devices to eyes.
The severe eye problems caused by these devices 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 the danger of mobile devices to eyes.
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 on to 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.
The truth about blue light blue light, good or bad?.
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, the truth about blue light, good or bad?
What is blue light.
Blue light is classed as the wavelengths of light between 420–500nm (nano-meters). This is within the visible 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 oursleep, 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 radiation.
Ultraviolet radiation 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 rays. We know that even small amounts of UV rays 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.
This blog will teach you how to choose high quality sunglasses for your baby and kids. The frames and lens colour, what’s best? And why?
Frames and lens colour, what’s best?
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:
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.
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 for sunglasses frames that lasts well.
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).
What is an A-grade lens? Firstly you have to understand how a lens is made. To make a good quality lens you first have to make a blank lens from “virgin” polycarbonate.
This blank lens allows all 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.
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 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.
Another important aspect of lenses is the colour and 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 do 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.
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 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.
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.
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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 harmful 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 offer any UV radiation 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 in many countries these sunglasses standards are self regulated and 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 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:
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 need 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 rays to enter the open eye.
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 rays 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 rays 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 Z80.3-2018 only classify UV radiation from 200nm up to 380nm not the real 400nm. This means they neglect UV rays between 380nm – 400nm, this missing 20nm is 40% of the total UV radiation. 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 rays 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:
If the lenses are UV400 at what level of UV do these lenses start cutting UV light?
If the lenses are 100% UVA what about UVB or UVC?
If the lenses are 100% UVA and B what about UVC?
Remember babies need total UV protection as they have no chromophores in the eyes that protectively absorbs harmful UV rays.
This Idol Eyes Australia blog will be simple information to educate young mothers and those interested on the need to protect their children’s eyes.
With our 71 years experience in optics we know how important it is to protect the eyes from birth. Currently 1 in 7 adults over 50 years old in Australia have some form of blindness (other countries have similar statistics) and a high proportion of those are from UV radiation related eye diseases like cataracts, pterygium, actinic & droplet keratites, pinguecula and macular degeneration. All totally preventable and we will teach you how. So your children don’t end up as one of these terrible statistics.
Please take notice.
Have you ever noticed how much your baby hates the glare of the sun? Their eyes tightly closed, head turning from side to side, etc.
Think of it like this… you’re in bed for a couple of hours in the dark and someone wakes you and turns on the lights. Definitely bright and it takes a while to adjust your eyes.
Your baby has been in the dark for around 9 months (during pregnancy). Then you take them into the sun. It’s truly uncomfortable and extremely damaging to the eyes as babies have no chromophores (UV protective cells) that develop with age within the lens of their eyes like adults.
Chromophores, truly magic little cells.
We know that chromophores cells within the eyes have the ability to absorb harmful UV rays. The problem is babies at birth don’t have these small protective cells. But they do grow quick and by the time most kids reach 5 years old they will have around 80% of the total number of these chromophores. The other 20% take some time to develop and most adult’s at 30 years of age will finally have the total amount.
Because babies and children lack these UV radiation protective cells we know that they receive 3 times more UV rays than adults. And by 20 years of age they will have received 80% of their life time exposure. So it is vitally important to protect the eyes from birth to stop this accumulated exposure of harmful UV radiation.
Protection is easy.
It is easy and very inexpensive to protect baby’s eyes with good quality sunglasses from birth. But be aware not all sunglasses are created equal and some are down-right dangerous for babies and kids and can cause more harm than good.