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.
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.
Even if you normally wear contact lenses and nonprescription (plano) sunglasses, there will be times when your contacts dry out or become uncomfortable – especially on the beach, where you battle the effects of sand, sun, wind and water. Prescription sunglasses enable you to be outdoors all day without these discomfort problems or the hassle of dealing with your contacts.
A better solution for driving
If you normally wear prescription eyeglasses, you face a dilemma when driving on sunny days. You can purchase “clip-on” sunglasses (or a modern magnetic version of them) for your eyeglasses. But these can sometimes scratch your lenses or can be difficult to put on without taking off your glasses – which can be dangerous when driving.
Another solution is to purchase one pair of prescription eyeglasses that have photochromic lenses – the kind that darken automatically outdoors. The problem here is that these lenses often won’t darken properly inside a vehicle because some of the sun’s UV rays are blocked by your car or truck’s windshield glass.
For convenience and comfort, the best solution for seeing in the sun is prescription sunglasses. For easy access and so you don’t forget them, store them in your car or boat so they’re always there when you need them.
Many lens styles available
Prescription sunglasses are available in a wide variety of lens materials and designs, including high index plastic and progressive (“no-line bifocal”) lenses. For boating, fishing and driving, polarized lenses offer superior glare protection from light reflecting off water and roadways.
If you plan on wearing your prescription sunglasses when playing sports, working with power tools or engaging in other activities that have the potential of causing eye injuries, choose lightweight lenses made of polycarbonate or Trivex. Lenses made of these materials are far more impact-resistant than glass or plastic sunglass lenses.
As with regular prescription eyeglasses, frame styles for prescription sunglasses are nearly unlimited. The only exception is that prescription sunglasses cannot be made in the same severe wraparound styles that some nonprescription sunglasses have. However, models with a lesser-curved wraparound style are available.
Sunglasses for Kids
In fact, some experts say we get up to 80% of our lifetime exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by the time we’re 18 years old.
Many styles available
You should have no trouble finding sunglasses your child will enjoy wearing. Children’s sunglasses are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes. And virtually any children’s frame can be transformed into sunglasses by adding prescription or non-prescription sun lenses.
Metal frames are very popular for children’s sunglasses because of their durability. Wraparound styles like those worn by adults are also popular in scaled-down versions for kids. Because they fit closer to the face than traditional frame styles, wraparound sunglasses provide superior UV protection not only for your child’s eyes, but for the delicate skin around their eyes as well.
Choose lenses with 100% UV protection
Photochromic polycarbonate lenses are a good choice for kids who need prescription eyewear. These lenses darken automatically when exposed to the sun’s UV rays, and then quickly return to a clear state indoors – so one pair of eyeglasses does the job of two! They also provide 100% UV protection.
Don’t forget the accessories!
To protect your investment in your child’s sunglasses, purchase a durable, hard-shell carry case for them. Also, make sure your son or daughter knows how to clean and care for their eyewear. Getting sunglass cords (commonly called “retainers”) is also a good idea. These are attached to the temples of the frame so your child can remove their sunglasses and the eyewear will stay with them – hanging from their neck instead of getting misplaced.