Options for Sunglasses

Choose a pair of protective shades that fits your style.

Photo: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Although a stunning pair of shades is a must-have fashion accessory, but properly protecting your eyes from the sun is an even more important reason to wear sunglasses. However, not every pair of sunglasses is both stylish and protective. Because so many options for sunglasses exist in all price categories, your best bet is to seek advice from an optician before you invest in a pair. Start considering some options in the mean time.

UV Protection

Without proper protection, ultraviolet radiation can damage your eyelid, increase your risk of cataracts and cause harm to your lens, cornea and other areas of your eye, warns MayoClinic.com. Steer clear of any sunglasses with labels that say “cosmetic” and avoid varieties that don’t give you any sort of details about the type of UV protection they offer. Rather, keep your eyes peeled for a label that says, “Blocks 99 percent of all UV light,” “Blocks 100 percent of all UV light,” or “UV absorption up to 400 mm,” recommends the American Academy of Opthalmology. Larger lenses and wraparound lenses also offer greater protection for your eyes than do small lenses.

Lenses

The type of lenses you select also affect the kind of use you can get out of them. For example, blue-blocking lenses – which have an amber tint – can help you see objects at a distance in low light, but they may prevent you from properly seeing traffic light hues, warns Dr. Dennis Robertson, Mayo Clinic emeritus ophthalmologist. Another type of lens is polarized. Polarized lenses help reduce unwanted glare, but aren't protective against UV rays unless they have been treated with a special coating. Mirror-coated lenses are effective at blocking visible light, polycarbonate lenses are strong and help protect your eyes from impact injuries common in sports activities and photochromatic lenses help reduce glare and improve visual clarity.

Styles

Now comes the part that can make or break your outfit. Assuming you have already chosen a pair that offers proper UV protection and has the lenses that work for your needs, the style you should choose depends on the look you’re going for. For example, oversized sunglasses complement a retro-style outfit. Aviator sunglasses – originally designed for fighter pilots back in the 1930s – have a thin frame and telltale teardrop shape that gives you a glam movie star look. Wayfarer sunglasses, which are also popular with celebs, have a trapezoidal lens and heavy frames, usually black, with a cool factor that never goes out of style.

Prescription Lenses

Prescription sunglasses come in a variety of frames and styles. If you wear eyeglasses but don’t want to purchase a separate pair of prescription sunglasses, many standard prescription eyeglasses are treatable with a clear UV-protective substance, according to Robertson. Other prescription glasses transition from clear to dark when they are exposed to sunlight. Another option is sunglasses frames that clip on or magnetically latch on to the frame. If you wear contact lenses, some varieties of contact lenses have UV protection. Even if you wear contacts with UV protection, you should still invest in a pair of sunglasses for outdoor wear because contacts don’t fully cover your eyes.

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