When your child is wears glasses, the question of sunglasses can be complicated. We can’t just stop by the local store and pick up a pair of inexpensive kid’s glasses. Last week I asked for people’s experiences with the different options for sunglasses for kids with glasses, so here’s my round-up of the three options, as I see them (if anyone knows of any other options, please, please let me know): Clip-on sunglasses, Prescription sunglasses, Transition lenses
Why your child needs sunglasses
First, though, I want to touch on the need for sunglasses. When Zoe first got her glasses, the glasses shop asked if we wanted to add transition lenses to her glasses so they would act as sunglasses in the sunlight. It was December in Minnesota, the middle of winter, in Minnesota in December, it’s pretty easy to believe you’ll never see summer again, so we put off the question of sunglasses. That summer (this was last summer in 2008) with all of Zoe’s eye appointments and prescription changes and eye surgery, we never quite got around to getting sunglasses – not transition lenses, not clip-ons, not prescription sunglasses. I felt a little like we were already doing so much, I just couldn’t manage to think about one more thing to do with her vision.
I would NOT recommend anyone following our example from last summer. Sunglasses are extremely important to help protect eyes and they’re even more important for young eyes. Young eyes are more susceptible to UV radiation, and most people get the majority of their exposure to sunlight before they’re 16 (from the Eye Care Blog). Exposure to UV radiation is linked to lens and retinal damage, and your eye does not repair that damage, so the damage from sun exposure accumulates over time. Make sure that any sunglasses you purchase block both UVA and UVB rays (from Dr. Greene.com).
Clip-on sunglasses fit over existing glasses, there are a number of different options for how they fit, but they often have “feet” that hold the tinted lenses on the glasses. How well they stay on depends on how well the fit to the glasses.
Price: Some clip-ons can run as cheap as $10, and can get more expensive from there.
Availability: Readers have found clip-ons at optical shops. You can also find some sold online. You’ll want to try them on your child’s glasses, and may need to have someone adjust them to fit better. If your child has particularly thick frames, or thick lenses, it may be difficult to find clip-ons that fit.
Advantages: An inexpensive option. You don’t need to worry about these not being comfortable in terms of the frames, since they fit on your child’s existing frames. If your child’s prescription changes, you probably won’t need to replace the clip-ons, unless the new prescription results in lenses that are too thick.
Drawbacks: Clip-ons may be difficult to find for very small children and babies, or for certain frame styles or lens sizes. Clip-ons are one more thing to keep track of, and it may be a bit of a pain to put them on and take them off when you’re going in and out. Clip-ons may not be as durable as other options as they can get easily bent (depending on their quality). If your child gets new frames that are quite a bit different, you may need to get new clip-ons.
Prescription sunglasses are simply an additional pair of prescription glasses with the lenses tinted. Like regular glasses, the price of prescription sunglasses will differ depending on the options you choose for the glasses.
Price: If you order from our optical shop, it will likely be a similar price as, or a bit more than, your child’s every day glasses. Many readers have purchased prescription sunglasses from online retailers such as Zenni.com for $20-$30.
Availability: Any pair of glasses can be made in to sunglasses with tinting. You can order prescription sunglasses from your favorite optical retailer.
Advantages: Prescription sunglasses allow your child to get the more “fun” sunglasses look for outside. Most people will not realize your child is in prescription glasses when they’re wearing prescription sunglasses. You can get the sunglasses to provide better protection for your child’s eyes by getting larger lenses. If your child breaks their primary glasses, you can, in a pinch, use the prescription sunglasses as back up.
Disadvantages: Prescription sunglasses are one more pair of glasses to keep track of, and clean, and maintain, and adjust. Switching from glasses to sunglasses to regular glasses again can be a bit of a pain. If your child’s prescription changes significantly, you’ll probably want to get a new pair of prescription sunglasses (though if the change is minor enough, you might be alright with the older prescription).
Transition lenses are a type of tinting that is applied directly to the lenses that will darken in sunlight, turning regular glasses in to sunglasses.
Price: The price of the transition tinting runs around $85 – $100. If you need to replace the lenses for any reason (scratches, prescription changes) you may need to pay the additional transitions tinting when you replace them.
Availability: Any pair of glasses can have the tinting applied.
Advantages: Nothing additional to keep track of – no switching of glasses or putting on/taking off of clip-ons. The glasses will darken and lighten according to the amount of sunlight.
Disadvantages: Some people have complained about the glasses not darkening sufficiently in cars because the car windows already block out UV rays. The costs can add up if you’re replacing lenses often.
~ ~ ~
Thanks to everyone for all the feed back that made writing this much easier. Please share any other experiences in the comments! And enjoy the sunshine.