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How-to Guide for Buying Sunglasses

Sure, sunglasses might add the final touches to your chic ensemble, but the real reason to purchase your shades is to protect your eyes from the sun. Not only does glare from the sun make it difficult to see, but the UV rays it reflects can cause permanent damage to your eyes and vision. You want to make sure your sunglasses offer optimal protection, fit, comfort and of course, the best possible vision. Here are some things to consider when purchasing your next pair.

UV Protection

There are two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are less intense yet more prevalent than UVB rays, making up 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. They have been linked to skin cancer, aging and the development of cataracts. UVB rays are very dangerous to the eyes and are the primary cause of sunburns and cancer. While they are dangerous year round, these rays are more intense during the summer months, especially mid-day between around ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. UVB rays also reflect off of snow, water, sand and concrete. 

The damage caused by UV rays is irreversible and cumulative, building up over a long period of time. This is why it is important to start wearing sunglasses when you are young (also because your eyes are more sensitive at a younger age). You want to make sure your sunglasses block out 100% of UV rays. This is the most important factor to consider when purchasing your sunglasses. 

Additionally, in certain circumstances of intense UV exposure, a condition called keratitis can occur, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye. Symptoms often occur hours after sun exposure and can include temporary vision loss and severe pain. 

Lens Options Sunglass

Once you are certain your sunglass lenses have the requisite UV protection, you can begin to consider other lens possibilities. Here are some other lens options to consider:

Polarized Lenses:

Reduce glare from light reflecting off glass, water, snow, sand or pavement. You should consider polarized lenses if you participate in water or snow sports such as fishing, boating or skiing as the water and snow can create a strong glare. They are also great for comfort while driving by reducing glare and to enhance vision when on the road. 

Tinted Lenses:

Certain lens tints enable you to see better or more comfortably under certain circumstances but you have to be careful. Lens tints can distort or reduce vision and some can even harm your vision by increasing your pupil size which leads to an increase of UV radiation penetrating the eye. Look for lenses with a medium tint that keep your eyes comfortable and do not have a negative impact on your vision. Your optometrists’ office can often make specific tint recommendations depending on your lifestyle or particularly activities (ex. golfing vs fishing) and the health of your eyes (for example, cataracts tend to cause more glare). 

Photochromic Lenses:

Automatically darken when exposed to UV light. Photochromic lenses are a great option for individuals that wear prescription eyeglasses: one pair can serve you both indoors and outdoors. As soon as you step outside, the lenses will darken, and they’ll reverse when you go back indoors. 

Lens Materials

There are also a few options when it comes to lens materials, such as plastics – including polycarbonate or acetate; trivex – which is a polymer material; or glass. The type of lens will determine the durability, clarity of vision and price of your lenses, so you should consider the factors that are most important for you and try out a few options to see how they feel. 

Sunwear Frames

Frame Size

The size of your sunglass frame is important for both comfort and protection. Your frames should fit according to your face size and provide ample coverage for your eyes. When you try on your frames, make sure they cover your eyes and feel comfortable around the bridge and temples. Also check that they don’t slip off when you move your head down toward the floor. 

Frame Materials

Frames can be manufactured from a number of materials and, these days, frame companies are constantly innovating to come up with new and improved options. These materials vary in strength, flexibility, weight, comfort and price. You need to choose a frame material that is comfortable, safe, and functional and that suits your lifestyle and your fashion style. 

 

 

The Effects Of Blue Light

Nearly two decades into the 21st century, most of us have nightly rituals that include checking our smartphones before bed.

This might not be the healthiest way to end our days. Many eye doctors are concerned about the effects our screen time could have on our vision and our health, and the main cause of that concern is blue light.

About Blue Light

You might remember from your high school science classes that the electromagnetic spectrum ranges from low-energy radio waves to high-energy gamma waves. The colors and light we see make up a very small sliver of this spectrum. Waves of blue light scatter more easily than the others, which is what makes the sky and large bodies of water appear blue.

 

Blue Light Effects On Eyes

The visible light with the highest intensity is blue light, and just above it on the spectrum is UV radiation. One concern is that, because blue light is so close to UV radiation in wavelength, it might be similarly harmful, particularly to our vision. The screens on our electronic devices may not emit light anywhere near as bright as sunlight (which contains both blue light and UV radiation), but the time we spend staring at our screens is time we spend exposing our eyes to blue light.

It’s not clear yet how much blue light exposure is enough to cause lasting harm to our vision, but it could be contributing to macular degeneration (loss of central vision), a condition normally associated with advancing age. To be on the safe side, we would be wise to limit our exposure.

Cutting Back On The Blue

To avoid blue light’s adverse effects on our sleep cycles, we should avoid looking at screens in the last hour or two before bed. If that sounds difficult, there are other options, all of which can also help with minimizing the effects of blue light on our vision.

  • Use warmer lighting in your home by buying more yellow-tinted LED lightbulbs instead of the bright white ones.
  • Wear orange tinted glasses that filter out blue light while working at your office computer, or use a screen protector  that does the same without altering your entire field of vision.
  •  Use screen filters or apps on your devices that eliminate blue light. The colors will be very different, but the screen will be easier on your eyes in the late evening.

Schedule an Eye Exam

If you’re concerned about the effect blue light may be having on your eyes, schedule an eye exam with your local Vision Source® member optometrist. They can determine whether there is any damage and help you come up with a plan to minimize harmful variables such as UV and blue light.

Your healthy vision is our top priority.