Girl wearing IE9011 Navy/Yellow frame with Revo mirror lens

Sunglasses the good and the bad

At a recent baby expo a young mother told me she will only buy cheap sunglasses for her children. Her reasoning was that all sunglasses are the same. And they must pass the compulsory sunglasses standards, and as her children are rough they will only break them. So, in theory all sunglasses should be good but in reality that is not always the case. Here we will teach you about sunglasses the good and the bad.

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. And many sunglasses simply don’t comply. (See our latest “WARNING” notes in the orange button 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. See why in this blog: How UV rays damage young eyes.

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 and worse, damaging her child’s eyes.

Lens colour, no requirements

There are also no requirements on lens colour in all world sunglasses standards and this is a critical misstep. (The reason for no lens colour requirements for young children’s sunglasses is due to the original standards being written before we made the world’s first baby sunglasses in 1987. In later editions of the standard, kids sunglasses were included but without additional requirements that are essential, like lens colour).

We know that 10% of boys and 2% of girls are colour blind. 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 and brown. Grey is (never great for clarity and affects some colour blind kids). And brown is (reasonable for clarity but useless for glare protection and adversely effects the largest number of colour blind kids).

Sunglasses the good and the bad

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.

Our recommendation

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.

Myths about sunglasses. – As seen on many websites by those with no experience in optics.

  • All sunglasses will protect eyes. No, totally false. Some will actually harm eyes and lead to blindness.
  • All sunglasses must pass compulsory world sunglasses standards. True. But all the sunglasses standards are self regulated and to save money a staggering 90% of cheap brands are never tested before going to market. Our testing shows a large proportion of these sunglasses do not comply. The authorities who do random in store checks don’t even have the testing equipment so they can only check if the correct labeling is applied. Unfortunately having the correct label does not always mean the sunglasses are safe.

Don’t miss the latest sunglasses “WARNINGS” at the top of the home page. They will save your child’s eyesight. This is updated when we see any problems regarding standards and sunglasses.

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