Making products for children isn’t easy in any industry. There are many things to consider, and safety is at the top of the priority list. The same can be said for kids eyewear. While many companies look at the design, safety is the predominant aspect that consumers (parents) consider before purchasing for their kids — so making safe eyewear for kids is a crucial factor to succeed in the market.
Whether you are going to start a new kids eyewear line, or are looking into improving your current supply, let's take a more detailed look into why you need to be creating safe kids eyewear and what you should consider.
Importance of safe eyewear
The main concern with kids glasses (and eyeglasses in general) is that they closely sit and protect one of the body's most exposed organs — your eyes. Eyeglass lenses have the responsibility of blocking out UV and reduce UV-effects on the eyes, as too much exposure can lead to vision damage, cataracts, and cancer.
This protection is especially important in kids eyewear as their eyes are more susceptible to UV-related harm due to their larger pupils and clearer lenses. Companies therefore, have a responsibility to create safe eyewear products.
What happens when your kids' eyewear is not safe?
In 2018, G&G Factory Outlet had to recall their kids' sunglasses in Australia due to unsafe lens misinformation. The product did not have the correct labeling to identify the lens category, which indicates the amount of UV radiation protection provided by the glasses.
Recalls of products can damage your brand and company reputation, especially since parents now are more informed and protective over their children. When your eyeglasses products get recalled, parents in the future may be reluctant to purchase eyewear from your company or brand. The best way to ensure that your glasses are safe is through testing and inspection. You need to be monitoring and testing the quality, production, and materials used in manufacturing to ensure that they are safe for use.
6 things to carefully consider when manufacturing kids eyewear
There are six stand-out safety concerns you need to consider when manufacturing to ensure your glasses are a success.
#1 Frame material
What your frames are made of is crucial when creating safe eyewear. Most kids eyewear is made from plastics, like acetate, as it’s more durable, less expensive and more flexible in terms of color choices.
If your frames are plastic, you’ll want to find a material that is free from BPA (Bisphenol-A), an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics. BPA has been linked to adverse health effects, such as obesity, and pushing most parents to shop BPA-free. Regulation around BPA is quite loose in the United States, with the FDA only limiting its use in certain products. Internationally, most countries also follow similar regulations by limiting BPA products for food containers and selected children's products (we’ll discuss other regulations later in this blog).
Besides BPA-free materials, your frames should also be free from any other poisonous substances (i.e. lead) that can bring harm to children. If you’re opting to manufacture metal eye frames for kids, you’ll need to consider different metal compositions and their subsequent reactions. For example, some children are sensitive to certain substances such as nickel.
Other than that, all frame materials should be safe to chew on as most kids will put objects in their mouth during their development.
#2 Lens material
Arguably, the most important material to consider is the material used for manufacturing lenses for kids eyewear. The lens acts as the first line of defense between the eyes and the sun's UV rays, which again, is especially important for kids as they are more susceptible to UV harm. Children’s ocular lenses cannot filter UV light and prevent it from reaching their retinas as effectively as adult’s lenses. When considering safety in lenses, you should consider materials that filter out both UVA and UVB light.
Parents are also increasingly becoming concerned about the effects of blue light from electronic screens on their kid’s eyes, citing dangers such as retinal stress on their young eyes due to overexposure. Consider having blue light blocking lenses to ensure that their eyes are protected. Companies such as Peepers have already implemented these types of lenses to match the demand for blue light blocking eyewear.
Polycarbonate lenses are the most popular choice in kids eyewear as the material is not only thinner but also lighter than plastic. The lenses are impact-resistant, shatterproof (ensuring no pieces will end up into kids eyes in the event that they break or crack), and provide 100% UV protection.
Not only should your lens material be safe, but you also need to ensure the right prescription in the lenses (if they have any). Having the wrong prescription can be damaging and irritating for the eyes, especially for children. It could potentially rapidly increase the rate of eye deterioration. Having a lens that minimizes distortion will help with this.
Testing prescriptions ultimately lie with the optometrist (in most cases), but manufacturing eyeglass prescriptions accurately is crucial to improve your product quality. By using precision manufacturing, you can reach tighter tolerances at a higher level of process control, meaning your glasses prescriptions can be extremely accurate and you can ensure you’re delivering the best quality to your suppliers.
What we mean by durability with regards to safety is breakage. It's most likely that children will break their glasses at least once during their use, or they’ll try their very best!.If the glasses you manufactured or sold break, will they cause a hazard to a child? If you’re uncertain at all then you need to assess the quality of the eyeglasses you’re putting on the market. In most cases, manufacturers use lightweight or bendable materials, such as metal or molded nylon for durability.
#5 Components & construction
Small pieces such as hinges, screws, and decorative add-ons can be a huge safety hazard in kids eyewear. Most kids eyewear have rubber ends and a plastic band so that eyeglasses can fit securely onto the head. If you opt for a design with hinges and small components, you need to ensure that the construction of the eyeglasses is carefully considered, so the components don’t present any danger to the wearer. Any tiny bits used in eyewear need to be securely fastened and shouldn’t pose a swallow hazard.
#6 Laws & regulations
There aren't many specific safety laws for creating children eyewear that doesn't already fall under creating regular eyewear. However, there are different laws for different countries you need to consider; here are some examples:
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): For the USA the CPSC states that sunglasses and reading glasses should be made of materials that are not flammable, non-toxic and do not produce allergic reactions under normal issues. The ANSI Z80.3-2010 standard measures the flammability of materials in sunglasses, while biocompatibility of material can be found at International Organization for Standardization's ISO 10993.
- The U.S. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The USA FDA also clarifies that sunglasses should be fitted with impact-resistant lenses and comply with the FDA requirements in 21 CFR 801.410.
- Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC): For Australia, there is a mandatory standard for children's sunglasses from the AS/NZS 1067.1:2016 Eye and face protection for sunglasses and fashion spectacles. The mandatory standard requires that eyeglasses must protect users from UV radiation within a specific range.
Why should you sell kids eyewear?
With so many concerns and costs associated with ensuring safety it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But the question is, is it even worth it to produce kids eyewear? In short, yes, absolutely.
The kids' eyewear market is trending and is on an upward path. Globally, the general eyewear market is rapidly growing, and is forecasted to reach USD 182.84 million by 2024. A significant portion of this growth can be attributed to kids eyewear (and the demand is rising in developing countries). This is because more and more kids and teens are becoming dependent on electronic devices (like computers, television, and mobile phones) which leads to prolonged strain on the eyes and as sad as it is this results in more eyewear products for the younger generation.
If you're still not convinced, here are some market leaders for kids eyewear to consider:
Probably the stand-out company in kids eyewear, Miraflex creates kids eyewear that are flexible and safe with frames made entirely from plastic. No screws, no hinges, and no metal parts, these glasses are offered in 15 different sizes, 6 models and 32 color variants for kids to choose from. Better yet, all their line of glasses are BPA free, latex-free, and hypo-allergenic to ensure kids safety.
Small yet durable, Babiators create kids eyewear with safety in mind. Their sunglasses are 100% UVA/UVB protected, soft, and flexible to best protect kids eyes. Babiators also make sure that their eyeglasses are durable so that the kids wearing them can play. These eyeglasses are so popular that they've already sold 2 million pairs.
How do you ensure kids eyewear safety then?
Again, the best way to ensure your kids' eyewear is safe is to continually test, audit, and examine your products, supply chains, and manufacturing. Inspection of every process will give you the ease of mind and confirmation that your products are up to quality standards so that your business can be competitive in the market.
At PEL, we offer testing and auditing services to help you ensure that your eyewear for kids is safe. We have high-end facilities that are tailored to meet all eyewear regulations and requirements for all regions around the world.
Our services don't only extend to kids eyewear; we provide testing and auditing for all types of eyewear.
Please feel free to reach out to us for a quote or additional up-to-date support on the safety requirements for eyewear in your region.