Whether or not you require vision correction, sunglasses can add an element of comfort and enhanced performance to your activities, while helping you look great.
Everyone should have a good pair of sunglasses. Whether you wear prescription eyeglasses or not, sunglasses are important for every age, race and gender. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunglasses are an important way to protect your eyes and ensure clear and comfortable vision when you are on the go. In addition to causing temporary vision loss, the sun’s bright rays can lead to long term eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can also cause sunburns on the eyes and over time, can lead to diseases such as macular degeneration.
For those who wear prescription eyeglasses, sun protection is available in a number of options including prescription sunglasses, photochromic lenses or eyeglasses with clip-on sunglass lenses. The best solution depends on your personal preferences, comfort and which option fits in best with your lifestyle.
These days, sunglasses are not only highly fashionable but remarkably functional for a wide variety of activities. Sport and athletic sunglasses for example provide eye protection, reduced glare and better contrast to improve performance in a range of outdoor conditions. Individuals with prescription eyewear can also benefit from the advantages of these specialty eyewear by purchasing prescription lenses.
Prescription sunglasses are available for virtually all vision prescriptions including those for farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism, as well as bifocal and progressive lenses. Almost any pair of sunglasses can be fit with prescription lenses as long as the shape of the lens doesn’t distort vision (which happens for example with extremely wide wraparound lenses). Therefore if the latest pair of designer sunglasses catches your eye, there should be no problem in fitting a prescription lens to the frame.
You can also get prescription lenses in most lens materials and with most lens coatings, including polarized lenses (for glare protection), tinted lenses, anti-scratch coatings, polycarbonate or Trivex lenses (for extra durability) and more.
Even for those individuals who do wear contact lenses, prescription sunglasses are a fantastic solution when you prefer not to wear your contacts, such as when your eyes feel dry or irritated (during allergy season or in dusty or sandy locations for example), when you are going swimming (it’s advised not to wear contact lenses swimming in any body of water due to risk of infection) or when you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of contacts. Prescription sunglasses give you yet another option for comfort, safety and great vision.
Photochromic lenses are another alternative for the prescription eyeglass wearer. These lenses darken in response to sunlight turning your regular prescription eyewear into prescription sunglasses. Photochromic lenses are a convenient solution for glasses wearers who find it a hassle to carry around two pairs of glasses. No matter what shape or style, you can protect your eyes and spruce up your outdoor look or your sports performance with a pair of prescription sunglasses.
Sunglasses for Kids
Many parents don’t know the importance of sunglasses for children and don’t stress that they wear them, especially given the hassle involved in encouraging children to wear them and take care of them properly. However, studies show that since we spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine as children that by the age of 18, our eyes and body have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection even more critical for children.
Risks to children’s eyes from overexposure to the sun can be short term and long term. Short terms risks include photokeratitis also known as “snow blindness” which is essentially a sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis can cause temporary vision loss for up to 48 hours. Pterygium is another condition, also referred to as “surfer’s eye,” which causes an itchy, swollen growth to form on the surface of the eye. Pterygium often require surgery to remove.
Long term UV damage is known to be a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes vision loss) and age-related macular degeneration, which also causes permanent vision loss and low vision, as well as cancer of the eye, eyelid or the skin around the eye. Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only your eyes, but also the area around your eyes from UV exposure and damage. Since these diseases can be caused by an accumulation of UV exposure over a lifetime, it is important to start preventative measures early, by getting children in the habit of wearing sunglasses when they are outside.
Quality sunglasses for children are easy to find these days, you just have to know what to look for. Firstly, you want to make sure that the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection and block UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. Many frames will come with a band to help hold the sunglasses in place and prevent loss. You may also choose to buy polycarbonate or trivex lenses, as they are more durable and impact resistant which is particularly helpful for active kids.
Children that already wear eyeglasses can consider photochromic lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses for the price of one. With photochromic lenses, you don’t need to worry about your children switching, and misplacing glasses when they go in or outdoors.
As with any glasses purchase, ask your optician about the policy for lost or broken sunglasses. Make sure you get a strong storage case and discuss with your child the best ways to keep the sunglasses safe and secure.
Lastly, let your child be involved in the process of selecting sunglasses, as any child will be more enthusiastic about wearing shades that he or she picked out and loves.
Prescription Sunglass Treatments
If you spend a lot of time outdoors or driving in the car, and still need vision correction, prescription sunglasses are perfect for soothing the eyes. Since most prescription sunglasses manufacturers block 100% UV, prescription sunglasses are a healthy way to enjoy the outdoors (especially the beach) and driving using the darkest lenses available to protect against the brightness of the sun.
For reduced glare and increased clarity in your vision, a pair of polarized sunglasses can’t be beat. An invisible filter is built into your lenses—making images appear sharper and clearer while reducing the intensity of the sun’s glare. Make sure your polarized sunglasses block 100% UV, and remember that polarized sunglasses are available with or without a prescription.
It’s always handy to have a second pair of eyeglasses, why not choose a second pair that makes a real difference in the comfort and clarity of vision while doing the things you love most!
Performance and Sport Sunglasses
Whether you are out on the field, the golf course, the waves or the mountains, you want your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and enhance your visual experience. Sports and performance sunglasses are more than sun protection, they need to be designed for optimal, fit, comfort, acuity and strength, based on the demands of the sport or leisure activity you pursue.
Each element of your sports eyewear needs to be designed for active wear and to stand up to the tests of extreme weather conditions, rough play, impact and of course the sun. If you are fishing for example, you need anti-glare protection in your lenses for when the sun’s bright rays reflect off the water, you need a broad frame to keep out the mist and wind and you need strong frames and lenses for impact resistance. Most importantly, depending on your sport of choice, your glasses should assist in creating an enhanced visual experience so you can see and perform at your best.
Performance Sport Lenses
The first consideration when selecting your sports eyewear is the lens. You likely want a lightweight, strong and durable lens that can withstand impact from debris, other athletes, balls or falls. The leading lenses in this arena are polycarbonate or trivex lenses which are made from highly impact resistant plastic that has built-in UV protection.
Glare can be an annoying and uncomfortable distraction in outdoor activities, which can reduce vision and have a negative impact on sports performance. Polarized lenses will help to reduce the glare that is reflected off of wet, icy or shiny surfaces. Lens tints and coatings (such as anti-glare or anti-scratch coatings) can also help to improve visual clarity and can serve to reduce glare and to enhance contrast sensitivity to improve vision and therefore performance in certain outdoor activities. Some sports sunglasses come with interchangeable lenses of different tints to allow you to choose the contrast that most suits the conditions you are playing in.
When selecting sports sunglass frames, the most important consideration is whether they have a comfortable and secure fit. Look for a pair that is strong and durable, yet lightweight and that doesn’t press into your face and cause discomfort at the temples or the bridge of the nose. For some sports like snowboarding, sports goggles might be the best option for the weather conditions and specific nature of the movement. Some frame options come with grips on the nose pads or temples to avoid slippage, particularly when you perspire.
Sports sunglasses are available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and the type that is best for you largely depends on the activities you participate in and what they demand. It is best to consult with your eye doctor or optician to get a full picture of your eye, vision and athletic needs in order to find the best pair of sports sunglasses for you.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!