How to Pick Sunglasses That Protect Your Eyes

The right sunglasses can elevate your outfit and frame your face in a way that enhances your best features.

But sunglasses are much more than a fashionable accessory. They can also protect your vision.

If your eyes are unprotected and exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period, even just a few hours, you may experience an effect called photokeratitis, known as a “sunburn of the eye.”

“Photokeratitis may be painful and include symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing,” said Karl Citek, O.D., Ph.D., chair of the AOA Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. “Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.”

Long-term overexposure to UV radiation throughout one’s life can cause more serious problems, such as damage to the eye, which can result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the white of the eye onto the cornea, or clear window at the front of the eye) and cancer of the eyelids, the skin around the eye and even the eye itself.

Here are a few tips on how to pick sunglasses that protect your eyes.

sunglasses that protect your eyes

Sunglasses Should Block Harmful UV Rays

how to pick sunglasses that protect your eyes

Sunglasses are essential for shielding your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

These invisible rays can cause a range of short-term and long-term damage to your eyes, including:

  • Sunburn of the eyes (photokeratitis): This painful condition feels like sand in your eyes and can cause redness, tearing, and blurry vision.
  • Cataracts: Clouding of the eye’s lens, which can lead to vision loss.
  • Macular degeneration: A leading cause of vision loss in older adults, affecting the central part of the retina.
  • Pterygium: A growth on the white of the eye that can spread onto the cornea and obstruct vision.

To effectively protect your eyes, look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. A label stating “100% UV protection” is a good indicator.

Unfortunately, 47 percent of consumers do not check the UV protection level before purchasing sunglasses.

Don’t be one of those guys.

By choosing sunglasses with effective UV protection, you can enjoy the outdoors while keeping your eyes safe from the sun’s invisible threat.

Sunglasses Should Screen Visible Light

sunglasses that protect your eyes

In addition to blocking harmful UV rays, sunglasses should also screen visible light.

Bright sunlight bouncing off surfaces like water or snow can create uncomfortable glare, making it harder to see clearly.

Overly bright light can strain your eyes, leading to headaches, squinting, and fatigue. Sunglasses that dim visible light to a comfortable level can help relax your eyes, reducing these discomforts and making outdoor activities more enjoyable.

Sunglasses with polarized lenses or graduated tints can filter out scattered light, reducing glare and enhancing visual clarity.

Certain sunglass tints can enhance specific colors, making them appear more vibrant and saturated.

This can be beneficial for activities like nature watching or photography, where appreciating subtle color variations is important.

Sunglasses Should Fit Your Face

warby parker sunglasses

Choosing well-fitting sunglasses isn’t just about comfort and style.

It’s about safeguarding your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare.

Loose sunglasses can let in light from the sides or top, creating glare and distorting your vision. A proper fit minimizes light leakage, reducing glare and ensuring clearer, more comfortable sight, especially important for driving or other activities.

But a snug, comfy fit blocks those rays, keeps your vision clear, and lets you enjoy the sunshine worry-free.

So don’t settle for ill-fitting shades!

Try on different styles, ask an optician for help, and find the perfect pair that flatters your face and protects your eyes in style.

Sunglasses Should Have Lenses in Good Condition

sunglasses that protect your eyes

Pick sunglasses with lenses that are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection.

Scratched or discolored lenses may not block ultraviolet (UV) rays effectively, increasing your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.

Damaged lenses can scatter light, causing annoying glare and reducing clarity, especially important for driving or other outdoor activities.

Mismatched lenses can distort colors, making it difficult to see clearly.

Cracked or scratched lenses can obstruct your vision, increasing the risk of accidents while driving, playing sports, or navigating busy streets.

Your eyes are priceless. Don’t settle for subpar shades.

Sunglasses Should Have Properly Tinted Lenses

sunglasses that protect your eyes

Lenses should also have a uniform tint, not darker in one area than another.

A gray tint, which is particularly helpful when driving, offers the best color recognition.

Our Recommendations for Sunglasses That Protect Your Eyes

We have tried many brands of sunglasses and have selected four of our favorites to recommend to you.

These brands offer a wide variety of styles and they are designed to look good and protect your eyes.

To be sure your sunglasses will properly protect your eyes, your best resource is your optometrist who will also help ensure your eyes are healthy through yearly, comprehensive eye exams.

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