If you normally shop for sunglasses by shape, size, or color of the frames, think again! Sunglasses are an important tool in your arsenal to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun. Here are some tips for choosing the right sunglasses to protect your vision.
• UV Protection – Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause damage to our skin in the form of sunburn and skin cancer. UV radiation has also been linked to increased risk for damage to the eyes including cataracts, macular degeneration, and other conditions that can cause vision loss.
UV rays come in three varieties which are labeled A, B, and C. UV-C rays get caught by the ozone layer in the atmosphere and are not harmful on earth. Any sunglasses you purchase should provide 100 percent protection against both UV-A and UV-B radiation. This is a case of buyer beware – it’s easy to put a label on something claiming 100 percent protection. Your eye care professional can help you make a good selection and may be able to test your sunglasses to see if they live up to what the label claims.
• HEV radiation – High-energy visible radiation from the sun, which is also called “blue light”, can also cause damage to your eyes with an increased risk of macular degeneration. Sunglasses should block most HEV radiation to be effective.
• Comfort – Bright sunlight and glare can make your eyes uncomfortable. It can also interfere with your ability to see clearly by making you squint or by making your eyes water. Select sunglasses that have enough tint to reduce glare and allow for comfortable vision. One way to test whether your lenses are dark enough is to look at yourself in a mirror while wearing the sunglasses. If you can see your eyes easily through the lenses, they probably are not dark enough.
• Lens color – The darkness and color of the lens does not affect UV protection. But lenses that block HEV rays are typically bronze, copper, or reddish-brown.