Girl wearing IE9011 Navy/Yellow frame with Revo mirror lens

Not all sunglasses are equal

Not all sunglasses are equal

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. But not all sunglasses are equal.

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.

Table showing the UV protection as a percentage
Note: Please don’t presume that darker lenses automatically cut more UV radiation. It is possible to make a CAT #4 lens with no UV protection. This type of lens will only lead to blindness.

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.

If you do have any questions about buying the correct sunglasses for your baby and kids or have other questions please contact us via:

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