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8 best kids’ sunglasses that protect little eyes from harmful rays

Children as young as six months should be wearing a pair to prevent damage

Rebecca Moore
Thursday 28 May 2020 12:15
<p>UVA rays can pass through the eye’s cornea and reach the lens and retina, and while UVB rays can’t pass through glass or plastic, they can still cause eye damage</p>

UVA rays can pass through the eye’s cornea and reach the lens and retina, and while UVB rays can’t pass through glass or plastic, they can still cause eye damage

The sun has got his hat on, hip, hip hooray! But before your children go running out the door, make sure they’re armed with a pair of sunglasses.

“Even on cloudy days, our children’s eyes can be exposed to UV radiation,” explains Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director.

UVA rays can pass through the eye’s cornea and reach the lens and retina, and while UVB rays can’t pass through glass or plastic, they can still cause eye damage. But fear not, sunglasses are here to help with lenses absorbing the visible light aimed at the eyes offering protection.

Without getting deeply technical, sunglasses protection levels vary, so are divided up into so-called filter categories. Category three lenses provide UV protection of up to the 400-nanometre wavelength, the top end of the UV spectrum. So when purchasing a pair of sunglasses for your child look out for category 3 or UV400 markings.

“For the best protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a relatively large yet close-fitting frame is the best design for children’s sunglasses,” suggests Edmonds. “Make sure they cover a good portion of the eyes and look for durable features such as flexible hinges.”

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Of course, eye health is paramount, so all of the sunglasses we tested comply with UV400 protection. But what else did we consider when putting a range of kids’ sunglasses through the mill? Comfort is key.

It can be difficult to keep sunglasses on little faces because their noses aren’t fully formed yet and don’t have bridges, so we took a close look at the shape of the sunglasses and how flexible the frames were to suit different face sizes.

While ordinary lenses darken the view, polarizing lenses block irritating glares so this feature scored highly, but we also wanted the sunglasses to appeal to the kids wearing them, so style is highly regarded.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best kids’ sunglasses for 2021 are:

Trinxa sunglasses

Best: Overall

Fed up of replacing broken sunglasses? Suneeze might just be the answer. Designed with fully flexible frames, these sunglasses are certainly up for the challenge; they won’t snap when bent, the lenses won’t fall out when dropped and they can even handle being sat on – and our five-year-old tester definitely put her pair through its paces. Robustness is equally matched with protection, with all the same all sun-blocking properties of a pair of quality adult sunglasses, Suneez offer 100 per cent protection against UVA/UVB rays including UV400, while the polarised lenses also reduce glare. You’ll also get a handy silicone strap, which is useful for younger ones whose sunglasses constantly fall off their face and a microfibre carry pouch for when they’re not needed. Available in six colourways, the contrasting arm colour and wayfarer shape make them a stylish choice that kids actually want to wear. We can certainly see them getting years of use as they’ve been designed with a long shelf life in mind, recommended for four to 10 years old.

Babiators original keyhole sunglasses

Best: For guarantee

You know a brand has to be pretty confident in its product when they guarantee that if you lose or break them within the first year, they will replace them for free. But after testing out the Babiators Original Keyhole Sunglasses we’d be pretty stunned if you broke them. The flexible rubber frame with impact and shatter-resistant lenses, means that you can bend, twist, or step on them and they won’t break. Protection is well covered too, with UV400 lenses that offer 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection. We also can’t deny how utterly adorable they look on our three-year-old tester. They also offer a secure fit, as they’re lightweight and comfortable with no pinching points. Choose between three sizes Junior (0-two), classic (three-five) and Kids (six+). Coming in an array of colours, there’s a pair to suit everyone and you’ll get a free drawstring bag to keep them clean and tidy.

IZIPIZI green sun junior #D sunglasses

Best: For comfort

For Parisian eyewear brand Izipizi, sunglasses are so much more than a summertime accessory. Dealing exclusively in eyewear, they know a thing or two about producing superior shades and this is well demonstrated in its Sun Junior #D sunglasses. Designed for those aged five to 10 years, these have been directly adapted from the brand’s popular adult #SUN collection, with a trendy round shape and incredible protection. Falling under the Filter Category three which offers UV400 protection, these shades also boast polarized lenses for superior glare protection. Aside from its stylish credentials, we were hugely impressed with the flexible and comfy arms with spring hinges which bend both inwards and outwards to adapt to different face shapes and sizes. Equally suited to all sexes, our five year old tester was in no rush to put these back into the sleeve.

Ki Et La ours’on sunglasses

Best: For toddlers

French fashion brand Ki ET LA specialise in UV clothing and accessories. The Ours’on Sunglasses come in two sizes; one to two years and two to four years. Our three year old tester’s interest was piqued simply by the packaging, which is a cardboard tube with fun bear face lid, doubling up as a sand mould. Inside is a pretty impressive pair of specs, what stood out first was the adorable cute little bear ears on the frame. The lenses are oversized meaning young eyes are well protected. These sunglasses perform highly in terms of eye protection with UVA, UVB and even UVC (an ultraviolet light) filter, plus an anti-blue light filter to reduce glare.

These sunglasses are also incredibly tough and unbreakable, which is reassuring when in the clutches of a heavy handed toddler. The frames are ultra-flexible and unlike the other sunglasses we tested they don’t feature the traditional hinge, instead they have an all in one frame, so the arms can be bent in any direction you want. The brand’s collection of frames and packaging are made from recyclable materials and you can even replace the lenses with prescription ones if needed. There’s a sweet teddy bear patterned soft pouch included for safe-keeping too.

Kids UV polarised sunglasses 2-6Y+

Best: Unisex sunglasses

Swedish brand Polarn O. Pyret know a thing or two about keeping our kids looking cool, and now it’s time to complete the look with these lightweight sunglasses, designed for two to six-year-olds. With UV400 protection and harmful rays, this pair of sunnies also possess glare-free vision thanks to the polarised lenses which meet filter category three requirements. They’re a comfortable fit and feel durable enough to take on daily adventures, and we like that you can keep them clean and safe with the included drawstring bag. The understated unisex design, with the simple Polarn O. Pyret logo on the arms, means they’ll never tire either.

Molo sunglasses with tinted lenses

Best: For fashion

These sunglasses are a real head turner from Danish children’s fashion brand Molo. But being fashion-forward doesn’t take away from its credentials, protecting against UVA and UVB rays, these shades are Filter Category three which offers UV400 protection. We love the retro-inspired hexagonal design, and as they’re oversized they offer plenty of coverage. Just as at home on the beach or on the slopes, these sunnies come with a Molo brand microfiber pouch for all your cleaning and storage needs.

Kids flexible sunglasses

Best: For secure fit

Available in four colours, these sunglasses have a stretchy detachable strap which can be adjusted for the snuggest of fits and demolishes the hunt the sunglasses game. With a comfortable and secure fit there’s plenty of flex in the arms for durability, and they are closely positioned to the eyes for safety. Protecting against UVA and UVB rays, these shades are Filter Category three which offers UV400 protection.

Sunglasses – red/black

Best: Value

Our five-year-old tester was more fascinated with seeing her reflection in the mirrored lenses than placing these on her face, but once the novelty of that had worn off, these sunglasses got the thumbs up. For £10 we can’t complain as they boast UV400 protection from UVA and UVB rays, are a comfortable fit, and the two-tone design makes them stand out. You’ll also get a microfiber drawstring pouch to keep them safe.

The verdict: Kids' sunglasses

Suneez sunglasses are strong all-rounders; ultimate protection, a comfortable fit – from four years to ten – polarised lenses and are incredibly robust, and at £25 we think they’re a steal. If you’re shopping for a toddler-specific pair Ki Et La ours’on sunglasses come highly recommended.

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While they’re having fun in the sun, make sure your child’s sensitive skin is protected with the best kids’ sunscreens

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