“When you wake up in the morning, and the light is hurting your head
The first thing you do when you get up out of bed
Is hit the streets a-runnin’ and try to beat the masses
And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses”
ZZ Top said it.
Although we don’t recommend you get cheap sunglasses, with the sun shining you should switch your thinking of sunglasses from “accessory” to “necessity”.
They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, designs, and makes, but a good pair of sunglasses are a great way to protect your eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. A good pair of sunglasses won’t just make you look cooler, but they will also filter out damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, help to cut down on glare, and even provide a layer of physical protection for your eyes.
So, with all these things to consider, what should you look for in your next pair of shades?
Let’s face it: money is a prime concern in any purchase. Sunglasses can cost anywhere from $10.00 to hundreds of dollars. And while cost doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, it is more likely that very inexpensive sunglasses either won’t protect your eyes as well, or even at all.
2) UV Protection
The most important reason to wear sunglasses is to protect your eyes from ultra-violet (or UV) rays. UV rays can cause a variety of vision problems, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and snow blindness (which is essentially when your cornea gets a sunburn). Also, a good pair of sunglasses can help to protect the thin, sensitive skin around your eyes, including your eyelids, from skin cancer.
When you are shopping for sunglasses, look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA & UVB rays, and are rated “UV 400”. which means they block light rays up to 400 nanometers in wavelength (in other words, very small rays). Since the coating that blocks UV rays is clear, lens darkness and color doesn’t necessarily equate to protection.
Polarized lenses don’t exactly help to protect your eye. Polarization cuts down on glare by filtering out light that is vibrating the “wrong” way. Think of polarized lenses as a picket fence. Light that is vibrating vertically will pass through, however light that is vibrating horizontally will be blocked
Polarized lenses won’t exactly protect your eyes any better, but blocking out glare will help you see better and help to keep your eyes from getting fatigued. They can literally be a life-saver in very reflective conditions, such as a winter day or after rain shower, when the sun is reflecting off of everything.
For more information on polarized lenses, check out our blog post devoted to them!
4) Impact Resistance
This is a matter of safety. For most people, buying a pair of sunglasses that are rated for impact resistance is a case of “You never know…”. There’s no such thing as unbreakable lenses, but accidents do happen. A passing car or lawn mower could kick up a stone, or kids could lose track of a ball. Nobody wants to get hit in the face and have their sunglasses shatter into their eyes. You still want to use a pair of true safety glasses if you are doing something hazardous like working with power tools, but you also can’t plan for every-day accidents.
Likewise, look for sunglasses that sport scratch resistant lenses as well. Polycarbonate lenses are very tough, however they scratch easily. Scratched lenses are difficult to see through at best. At worst, scratches can diffract light, causing it to scatter and make it feel like you are wearing prisms on your face.
5) Lens Shape
Style is something of a personal choice.
However, if you are trying on sunglasses and can see light around the edges, then that means unfiltered light is getting in and limiting the effectiveness of your new shades. You want to pick a style that covers as much of your field of vision as possible. Wraparound styles are great for this. Likewise, bigger lenses help to keep UV radiation off more of your skin.
This is a pretty simple one. You want to find a pair of sunglasses that fit you well. That means that they are snug without being tight, that don’t rub or pinch your nose, and fit close to your brow without your eyelashes touching the lenses.
7) Who Should Wear Sunglasses?
The quick and easy answer is “Everyone”. However, they’re particularly important if you have had eye surgery, have a condition that makes you sensitive to light, or are on medication that makes you more prone to sunburns.
Get The Right Color
Sunglasses come in a wide variety of colors and hues. However, some of them can make it difficult to distinguish between colors. Amber and gray lenses have the least impact on how you see colors, so pick the one that best suits you and the conditions you are in most often. Or, pick out a pair of sunglasses that allow you to easily change the lenses and you can adapt to changing conditions on the go.
Inexpensive sunglasses tend to have mass-produced lenses that are cut or punched from blanks. Often times the quality in these lenses is lacking. If you can, look for lenses that are ground and polished. These lenses will have (much) less distortion and be easier on your eyes. To check for distortion, look at a vertical line and move your head. If the line “wiggles” then there is a distortion in the lens and you should pick out another pair.
Get Your Kids Started Now
Like skin damage from UV rays, eye damage adds up over time. If you aren’t in the habit of wearing sunglasses, you should start now, and if children aren’t, then they should start now too. Because kids’ eyes are still developing, they are even more sensitive, and at a higher risk than adults. And besides, a habit formed young is more likely to stick with them, and wearing sunglasses is a good habit to have.
Wear Your Sunglasses Every Day
Just because it’s cloudy, doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting UV rays., because clouds do nothing to stop them. So, just like you would still wear sunscreen if you were going out on a cloudy day, wear your sunglasses too. This is when having either a pair with amber lenses, or a pair sunglasses with lenses you can easily change, comes in handy. Amber lenses they are less likely to be “too dark” and make wearing sunglasses comfortable in lower-light conditions.
Take Care Of Your Sunglasses
A good pair of sunglasses is an investment. Not only do they cost money, but also in your health. A good pair of sunglasses will come with a good case as well as instructions in care and maintenance. Pay attention to these instructions and your sunglasses should stay in good order for a long time.
Well, that’s about it. We’ve covered who should wear sunglasses (everyone), why you should wear them, and what to look for when you’re shopping for sunglasses. One last thing: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a great selection of quality sunglasses here at Rhinebeck Eye Care, and if you wear prescription glasses, ask us about prescription sunglasses.