Sunglasses have become an iconic accessory that helped famous personalities distinguish themselves from the crowd. But while their looks – or the “cool” factor, so to speak – attract people to a particular pair, there’s more to sunglasses than meets the eye (no pun intended).
You see, stylish designer sunglasses do more than make you look good – they also help you see better. With the right pair, your vision will improve considerably, even under intense sunlight.
When choosing the right pair for you, it pays to know what you should look for other than aesthetics. There are a lot of different factors at play here and several more recommendations you need to heed.
Here are some things you need to know when shopping for sunglasses to take care of your eyes.
1. Consider Function as Much as Style
Sure, a lot of sunglasses can make you look good, but do they offer enough in terms of functionality? Although often considered as an embellishment to an outfit, sunglasses do have their true purpose: to protect your eyes.
That said, set aside trends for a moment and look for a pair that offers enough protection from the harsh sunlight. Go with those that have two or three lens categories as they can reduce the glare and offer medium- to high-level protection against UV rays.
It is also important to consider how and where you will use the sunglasses. For instance, people who spend plenty of time near or on water could use polarized lenses’ added glare reduction. Some sunglasses, like sporting shades, have frames made from highly durable materials perfect for people with an active lifestyle (more on this later).
2. Always Read the Label (Not Just the Price)
Sometimes, people are too quick to buy cheap sunglasses without even thinking about whether these can protect their eyes. But while the cost is still an essential factor, you should remember to read the entire label that comes with the sunglasses.
Rather than looking only at the price or the brand, consider how well the pair can protect your eyes, too. Many sunglasses for kids and adults are sold under plenty of names and at various prices, but not all of them are created equally in terms of UV protection.
In small doses, the UV radiation from the sun boosts Vitamin D production. However, too much exposure can lead to an array of eye problems, including macular degeneration, cataracts, and growths in and around the eyes. This is why eye experts recommend wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
3. Make Sure the Sunglasses Fit Comfortably
When shopping for sunglasses, you must look for a pair that fits the face well, and this isn’t just to make sure that they look good on you. It also has something to do with how well they can cover your eyes.
To ensure this, you need to look at different sizes of frames. Not to be confused with the sunglasses’ coverage, the frame is the actual fit of the shades on the wearer’s face. If you can’t fit the sunglasses in person before buying, look for these three consecutive numbers on the label:
- Eye size – measured from the outer to the inner edge of each lens (typically 40 to 62 mm)
- Bridge size – the width between lenses (often running between 14 and 24 mm)
- Temple size – the length of the arm- or ear-piece (measures about 120 to 150 mm)
Take note that not all manufacturers include this information on the label. Even so, you should at least find a way to ensure that the shades you intend to buy fit the contours of your face enough to cover your eyes well.
Sunglasses that don’t fit well allow UV rays to seep through and harm your eyes. You also don’t want something that touches the eyelashes or is pushed way out. Look for those with frames that line up along your brow.
4. Ask About the Frame Material
Besides the fit, another critical factor when choosing a sunglasses frame is the material it is made from. As mentioned earlier, this is vital, especially when using sunglasses for a specific purpose.
Below are some of the common materials used for sunglasses frames and what they’re most useful for:
This is great for sunglasses worn by people during sports and highly dynamic performances due to this material’s stress-resistance and lightness. It can also withstand temperature fluctuations and is flexible enough while retaining an ideal level of stiffness necessary for safety.
Metal frames are resistant to corrosion and malleable, making them easy to tailor to different frame styles and face shapes. However, they are not ideal for use in sports.
Of all materials used for sunglasses frames, plastic ones are the cheapest, regardless of whether it’s acrylic or polyurethane. However, plastics aren’t as durable as nylon or even metal.
While considered a form of plastic, acetate frames are stronger and more flexible than other frames. They are also generally lighter and can come in a wide array of colors and textures that don’t fade easily over time.
Another plastic that’s sturdier than others is polycarbonate. It is a versatile material that is as tough as any plastic can go, with top-notch impact resistance that makes it perfect for safety and sports glasses. However, it’s not as flexible as acetate, which could affect comfort in wearing.
Usually used in high-end sunglasses, titanium frames are scratch-resistant and highly durable, so it is a bit more expensive than the rest of the frame materials on this list.
5. Know Your Lenses
The lenses are another critical factor in choosing the right sunglasses for you. Like frames, lenses are made from many different kinds of materials, each offering advantages during certain situations:
Optical lenses are perfect for ensuring distortion-free vision. They are also extremely durable and can resist scratches.
This inexpensive lens option is perfect for casual and fashionable sunglasses since it is durable and retains a high optical clarity level.
This sturdy plastic used for frames also performs well when used in lenses for shades worn by very active individuals. After all, it’s the same material used in aircraft windshields that are virtually indestructible.
Also, polycarbonate is scratch-resistant (not scratch-proof, though) and provides high optical clarity. It is 50 times more resilient to impact than optical glass as well.
Cool and Groovy Eye-friendly Shades
Shades can make you look cool and groovy, and help you stand out from the crowd. That aside, you must also consider how well sunglasses can protect your eyes. Choose a pair based on this set of guidelines to maintain the optimal health of your eyes.
Firas Saab is the Training Manager at Al Jaber Optical in Dubai, the leading optical and eyewear company in the UAE that offers a comprehensive range of eyewear and optical services across the board, through a wide range of modern optical products and facilities. Firas is an enthusiastic trainer with more than a decade in the retail and optical industry and has recently acquired HND in Business and Management in addition to his Optical qualifications.Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. All opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the company or product I am reviewing.
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