Whether you pick them up at a discount retailer or from a designer boutique, sunglasses are definitely must-have accessories regardless of the season. However, far from being just a fashion accessory, sunglasses are multipurpose tools that can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and provide a degree of shade on a sunny day, improving visibility and lessening your chance of being temporarily blinded by sunlight (particularly important while driving).
As wonderful as sunglasses are, all sunglasses are not of the same quality and it is important to take care when shopping for a pair. The most important consideration when purchasing sunglasses is to find a pair that provides full protection from ultra violet (both UVA and UVB) rays, which are generated from the sun even on cloudy days. While experts disagree about possible negative effects UVA rays may have on the eye, it is known that UVB rays can cause a number of eye conditions including permanent retinal damage, so make sure your sunglasses are rated for full UV protection.
Sunglasses come in a variety of styles and types. If fashion is your main consideration, pick a stylish frame and then have custom lenses with UV protection added to them. If sun protection is your primary concern, pick up a pair of wraparound sunglasses that will block light that would normally skip past the frames of regular sunglasses.
After you’ve found a style that you like, think about the lenses. You’ve probably seen sunglasses with different colored lenses. While on cheap plastic sunglasses color may be little more than a fashion choice, with proper lenses, the color can tell you more about the purpose of the sunglasses. Knowing the different kinds of lenses will help you make the best decision when choosing sunglasses.
• Photochromic lenses change color depending on the amount of UV light to which they are exposed, although for the most part, they appear darkly shaded when outside, and light or clear when inside. Photochromic lenses create the illusion of sunglasses and regular glasses in one package.
• Amber-colored lenses tend to block blue light. There is discussion about whether blue light is harmful to the eye, but outdoors lovers agree blue-blocking lenses are super on the ski slopes or while hunting or fishing.
• Mirror-coated sunglasses limit the light that reaches your eye, which may make it easier to see in very bright situations.
• Gradient lenses, as the name implies, are those that are tinted at different opacities from the top down or from the bottom up. Top-down gradient lenses in sunglasses are great for driving and viewing the controls clearly.
• Polarized and anti-reflection-coated sunglasses reduce the amount of reflected light reaching your eyes, which is great in super-bright situations such as in the snow on a sunny winter day.
Nearly every style of sunglasses, lenses and frames, can be made to accommodate special prescriptions so that even those with poor vision can benefit from wearing sunglasses.