Sunglasses can give you that instant Hollywood or rock star hipness, however they’re much more than a fashion accessory. Sunglasses are an essential tool in safeguarding the health of your eyes. Too much sun exposure can potentially damage the skin around your eyes, the lens of your eye and increase your risk of cataracts.
Not all sunglasses are created equal. You cannot use price as a gauge of sun protection, since many higher priced brands cost more because of fashion and brand names, not function. Here are some quick tips on what to look for:
- Look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Sunglasses help protect your eyes in two important ways. They help filter light and they protect against damaging rays of the sun (UV rays). Avoid sunglasses that say “absorbs UV”. Sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays .
- To best protect your eyes from the sun, always wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors – even when it’s cloudy.
- Depending on your outdoor lifestyle, you also may want to explore performance sunglasses or sport sunglasses.
- Lens Options: Your sunglass usage will determine the best type of lens for you.
- Polarized Lenses: This type of lens helps cut the glare – such as the glare off of water while you’re out sailing in the warm summer months. But glare reduction does not equal adequate UV protection. Make sure that your sunglasses have both. Opt for sunglasses with a polarized lens if you spend a lot of time in the water. However, it can be difficult to read your cell phone, GPS device, or ATM machine with polarized lens.
- Blue-blocking lenses:These lenses can make distant objects easier to see, especially in haze. Lenses that block all blue light are tinted amber. But be careful when driving with these lenses when you look at traffic lights– the police won’t accept sunglasses as an excuse to get out of a ticket!
- Photochromic lenses:These lenses darken or lighten as the amount of available light changes which allows you to have one pair of glasses for indoor and outdoor use. However, they do take time to adjust to different light conditions.
- Polycarbonate lenses: These lenses offer impact protection during potentially hazardous sports and activities.
- Gradient lenses:Single-gradient lenses, which are dark on the top and lighter on the bottom, reduce glare while allowing you to see clearly. They’re useful for driving, but not sports. Double-gradient lenses are dark on the top and bottom and lighter in the middle. They’re useful to wear during water sports, but not for driving.
- Lens Color: Darker lenses do not necessarily mean more sun protection. The coating that blocks UV light is actually clear. Grey, green or rose color lenses can offer adequate UV protection as well. However, hue does play an important role in color perception. Yellow or rose tinted lenses can make it difficult to distinguish changes in traffic lights. Gray, green, and brown lenses minimize color distortion, and are a better choice when you’ll be behind the wheel.
- The fit: Larger frames and wraparound style sunglasses or sunglasses that fit closely around the eyes will offer the most UV protection. Sunglass frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears without pinching or rubbing. To prevent light from hitting your eyes from overhead, choose a pair that fits close to your face around the brow area, but not so close that your eyelashes are hitting the lenses.
- Protection for kids: Children and teenagers typically spend more time in the sun than adults. With this in mind, it’s especially important for kids to protect their eyes from the sun. Also, children are more susceptible to retinal damage from UV rays because the lens inside a child’s eye is clearer than an adult lens, enabling more UV to penetrate deep into the eye. Also, encourage your child to wear a hat on sunny days to further reduce UV exposure.
Whether you opt for high-priced designer sunglasses or a more affordable pair you find at your drugstore, you can easily find sunglasses that are flattering and functional. Protecting your eye health is one sunglass trend that will never go out of style.
Doctor Gregg Feinerman is a world-renowned eye surgeon based in Newport Beach, California. As an Orange County eye surgeon, he specializes in LASIK vision correction and cataract surgeries. He and his friendly, knowledgeable staff are available to help you achieve your optimal eye health needs at Feinerman Vision Center.