The Safest Lenses and Eyeglasses for Kids

When choosing eyeglasses for your child, safety should be your first priority. Children are prone to accidents, both at play and while participating in sports activities. Many children suffer sports-related eye injuries each year, most of which could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear.

Young girl using digital tablet in classroom
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Polycarbonate Lenses

The best way to ensure safe vision is to choose polycarbonate lenses. They are more durable than regular plastic. Polycarbonate lenses are very lightweight and shatter-proof. They also have the best impact resistance of any lens material. Polycarbonate lenses are actually constructed out of material that is identical to what is called "bulletproof glass." They also have built-in ultraviolet (UV) protection to protect the eyes from the sun's harmful rays.

Many eye doctors choose to use only polycarbonate lenses for children's glasses. Since the lenses are shatter-proof, a child's eyes won't be damaged by shards of flying glass or plastic if the glasses are hit hard by a ball or a bat. To keep vision clear for as long as possible, polycarbonate glasses usually come with a scratch-resistant coating. Though not scratch "proof," lenses that are treated front and back with a clear, hard coating do become more resistant to scratching.

Safety Glasses and Frames for Sports

Safety glasses for sports should have polycarbonate lenses that are 3 millimeters thick. If your child is planning to play sports, make sure to choose a safety frame to hold the polycarbonate lenses. Safety sports frames are made to hold up to high impact from fast-moving balls or heavy racquets. They are made of plastic or polycarbonate that will reduce injury from the frames themselves. Check to see if the frames meet ANSI standards.

For playing basketball, soccer, or tennis, children should wear sports goggles that have side shields and polycarbonate lenses. If your child needs vision correction, that can be provided in the lenses of the goggles. For baseball, children need a batting helmet that has a polycarbonate face shield. For skiing, they will need U.V. protection in glasses or goggles.

Contact lenses are not a form of protective eyewear. Contact lens wearers require additional protection when participating in sports.


Whether your child needs corrective lenses or not, sunglasses are needed to protect their eyes from the damage of the sun's ultraviolet rays. Exposure early in life will contribute to developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and skin cancer. After the age of 6 months, all children should wear sunglasses when outside. Look for glasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Look for polycarbonate lenses that are impact-resistant and scratch-proof. Styles that wrap-around and large glasses that cover more skin will provide more protection.

Protecting Your Child's Eyes at Home

Safety glasses aren't just for organized sports. You can start early with providing eye protection for your kids when they are playing ball in the backyard and doing activities such as mowing the lawn. You can show proper behavior by always wearing eye protection yourself when doing these activities.

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Article Sources
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  • Choosing Sunglasses for Your Kids. Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • Preventing Eye Injuries. The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.