Baby Banz frames are designed for comfort and stability (adventure banz shown here).
Adult sunwear is big business, comprised of a flurry of high-styled oversized trends, sports-specific performance shades, and new technologies and designs. But kids, who tend to get overlooked in the market, are more in need of sun protection than their grownup counterparts. Why? Children’s eyes are far more susceptible to the effects of UV exposure because their large pupils and near-transparent crystalline lenses let in more UV light than a developed eye. Plus, 50% to 80% of lifetime sun exposure is accumulated before the age of 18. Luckily, several sunwear companies recognize and cater to the unique needs of kids.
BABY BANZ Think the sun feels harsh here? Our climate has nothing on Australia’s, which makes the country a perfect launching pad for a sunwear line. Founded in 2001, Baby Banz has evolved from a simple sunglasses company into an all-encompassing sun-protection brand for babies and children that includes prescription swim goggles, UV clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and even sunscreen. The classic Baby and KidZ Banz frames (for newborns up to those aged 5) are designed for comfort and stability. In place of temples, a neoprene velcro strap fits little heads snugly. Soft silicone is embedded in the backside of the polycarbonate frame fronts to protect delicate skin. Kids graduate to Junior Banz frames which have standard temples and more selection in colors and styles.
BOLLÉ In 2009, Bollé, a performance-sun brand with French origins, responded to what it saw as a need for high-quality children’s products that offered durability and protection by reintroducing kids’ sunglasses to its repertoire. The collection now includes nine styles for those aged 2 to 12. Believing that children deserve the same quality and styling as adults, Bollé uses the same materials (high-quality nylon and polycarbonate) as it does on its other frames, and many are modeled directly after the adult frames.
JULBO Although French brand Julbo has made a name for itself as a multi-sports
Julbo’s Loopings feature category four lenses, which block 95% of visible light instead of the usual 80% to 85%.
sunwear company, its top-selling product is its “Looping” frame for babies and toddlers. The flexible and reversible (there is no “up”) frames have a wraparound design without hinges or moving parts and are durable enough to be used as chew toys, the company claims. Loopings are distinguished by their use of category four lenses, which block 95% of visible light instead of the usual 80% to 85%. These are the same lenses Julbo uses for its mountaineering sunglasses.
Frames for older children have the same flexible material but add hinged temples for a more adult feel. Julbo always considers the size and shape differences of kids’ faces so different molds for different age ranges take into account the angle between the ear and the eye and the width of the bridge. Nothing is a sized-down adult frame.
ZOOBUG Just because kids need sunglasses doesn’t mean they have to be only about function. Options abound for budding fashionistas with discerning tastes. British company Zoobug frames have the characteristics of many high-end lines but are exclusively for children. The collection is eclectic and bold. There are over-the-top mod frame fronts shaped like butterflies and flowers (think Twiggy, circa 1967), extreme cat eyes, and miniature versions of trendy aviators and wayfarers.
So when you think about protecting your younger patients’ eyes from the harsh sunlight with fashion-forward sunwear, look no further than some of the stylish sunglasses mentioned above.
Kate Jacobs is an optician at the optical shop at Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
WHERE TO FIND IT Baby Banz 888-333-0074 • babybanz.com