Sunglasses: More than Just Fashion

Image of man and woman wearing sunglasses.

Sunglasses can make us look awkward or chic, but their real value lies in their ability to protect our eyes. Since damaged eyesight is difficult to correct, choosing the right sunglasses is key to maintaining good vision and eye health. Most optometry clinics have specially trained staff who can help you select a pair that preserves your vision while helping you look your best. For now, here are a few tips on finding sunglasses that protect eye health.

1. Look for UV protection.


Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage both the skin and the eye's lens and cornea. As optometrists know all too well, UV exposure has been linked to two medical conditions that degrade your eyesight: cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition, UV light can increase the chances of developing skin cancer and cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles and crow's feet.

For the best protection, choose sunglasses that have a label certifying at least one of the following regarding the lenses:

* Block at least 99% of both UVA and UVB rays
* Meet ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements
* Offer UV 400 protection

2. Select the right color.


The hue of the lenses doesn't affect UV protection, but it can influence how you perceive colors. Avoid lenses with a yellow or rose tint; these make it hard to read traffic lights. Look for gray, brown or green lenses for minimal color distortion and safer driving.

3. If you love the water, opt for polarized lenses.


Polarized lenses decrease glare from reflected light, so they're great for boaters or folks who spend a lot of time on the road. However, it might be trickier to read a GPS device, cell phone or LCD dashboard display.

4. Check for good quality lenses.

Inexpensive sunglasses can offer the same level of UV protection as higher-end brands, but those with lower price points may have more quality concerns. Whichever end of the spectrum you choose, try on the pair you're considering and focus on a vertical line or edge. Move your head from side to side while keeping your eyes still; your eyes should sweep across the lens. If you see any wiggle in the line, then the lens likely has an optical defect; choose a different pair and repeat the test.

Sources:

American Optometric Association (2013). Sunglasses Shopping Guide.

WebMD (2012). How to Pick Good Sunglasses.

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  • "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit! I see an optometrist every year and I received care at her office that I've never received anywhere! I had my eyes dilated for the 1st time to make sure everything was ok. It was offered to me & covered by my insurance. I realize the importance of my vision and was very pleased with the care I received!"
    Andrea Walker
  • "First of all, the atmosphere was welcoming....(very important to me). The receptionist worked with us and was very patient due to the fact we haven't seen an optometrist in a while....and Dr. Norwood took extra time out to explain things that was unclear to me (for myself and my child). I expect the type of care she provided.
    My last experience (elsewhere) was rough, which is why it took me so long to see another eye Dr.
    Dr. Norwood is a great example for all optometrists and her staff as well. Thanks again..."
    Erika T Collins
  • "I love this Doctor. I thank God that i brought my baby to her. Because she saw some things that were going on behind her eye's. She told me to take her to the er asap. I did my baby almost die on me. But i thank God for sending me to her. I feel like she was my baby Angel. Thank u so much. Doctor Norwood."
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