While sunglasses may be considered a must-have fashion accessory, even more importantly, they play a critical role in protecting your eyes from UV (ultraviolet) and other harmful radiation from the sun. They also shield your eyes from wind, dust and debris that could cause discomfort, dryness or damage.
Sunglasses should be worn in the winter as well as the summer and should be 100% UV blocking. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay a fortune for your shades. Even cheaper brands of sunglasses are made these days with full UV protection, so take the extra time to ensure you select ones that do offer full protection from the sun’s rays.
1. Frame Materials
Sunglass frames are made in a wide variety of materials from plastics and acetates, to wood and natural materials to metals, such as aluminum, steel, or titanium. Before you select a pair of frames, think about your lifestyle and what type of material will be most suitable for you.
If you live an active lifestyle, sturdy and durable frames are a must. If you have sensitive skin, look for a pair made with hypoallergenic material that is light and fits comfortably. Make sure you select a pair that fits well, looks good, and properly blocks the sun to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable when you are wearing them.
2. Sunglasses Shapes
Sunglasses serve as a combination of function and fashion and therefore come in a plethora of shapes and styles. Sunglasses are often larger than eyeglasses to cover more surface area and prevent sunlight from entering around the lenses.
While fashion sunglasses are made in all of the latest styles from aviator to cat eyes, round, square and oversized, sports sunglasses are generally more durable and broad, often in wraparound styles that prevent sunlight from entering from the sides as well. Wrap-around frames are a good option for athletes, fishermen, and bikers that spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.
Lenses are the most important part of any pair of sunglasses. As mentioned above, all lenses should block 100% UV rays but beyond that there are many options for sunglass lenses. Polycarbonate or trivex lenses are impact-resistant to increase safety during sports and outdoor activities. Polarized lenses help to reduce glare and are particularly helpful during activities on or near the water such as boating, fishing or beaching. Anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings are also beneficial to maintain your best vision in a variety of conditions.
For the fashion-conscious there are a number of colors and reflective coatings available for sunglass lenses. It’s best to choose the lenses that allow for the most accurate color vision with the least amount of distortion to ensure they don’t obstruct clear vision.
While it’s important to choose sunglasses that you like from a style and appearance perspective, it’s also important to pay attention to comfort and fit. Here are a few tips for purchasing sunglasses that fit well for maximum comfort and sun protection:
- Make sure the lenses completely cover your eyes and provide extra coverage above and to the sides.
- The frames shouldn’t pinch at your temples or the nosepiece and should be wide enough for your face.
- Ensure that the frames aren’t too wide and stay in place when you move your head around.
4. Sunglasses for Prescription Eyeglass Users
If you wear prescription eyeglasses there are a number of options for sun protection. These options include prescription sunglasses, photochromic lenses (which turn from clear lenses to dark when you go outside), clip-ons, fitovers (which are sunglasses that go over your prescription eyewear) or wearing contact lenses with plano (non-prescription) sunglasses. Speak to your optician to determine the best option for you.