Sunglasses and a Sunsafe hat

What’s a sunsafe hat?

Even without sunglasses, a well-designed hat can substantially reduce the amount of UV radiation reaching their eyes, while also protecting their face, neck, ears and head. The Cancer Society on its SunSmart Schools website has children’s hat guidelines.

Recommended hats protect the face, neck and ears. These are legionnaire, bucket (deep crown, brim size at least 5cm) or broad brimmed (brim size at least 7.5cms for school aged children). Avoid caps — they don’t protect the ears and back of the neck. Make sure the hat is made of close-weave fabric and fits well. If the hat has a cord, shorten it to reduce the risk of it catching on equipment. Sun protective hats halve the level of UVR reaching the eyes.

Should young children wear sunglasses?

UV radiation damages the eyes as well as the skin. Damage to the eyes builds up over a lifetime and can cause serious eye problems, such as cataracts (clouding of the lens). An effective sunhat significantly reduces the level of UVR exposure reaching the eyes. Eye protection may also be enhanced by the use of sunglasses.

There’s no recommended age for a child to wear sunglasses, and opthamlogists are not agreed on whether babies and young children should wear sunglasses for safety reasons, as well as a certain amount of UVR exposure being important for eye health.

If you decide to buy sunglasses for your child, make sure they meet the Australian/NZ Standard AS1067 (found on the swing tag) and fit closely to their face so that UV radiation can’t reach their eyes. Avoid toy sunglasses, which are great for dress-ups but little use for sun protection.

This information has been provided by the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

For more information see Baby sun care or Baby Care.