When it comes to buying a new pair of sunglasses, most people will make their choice based more on appearance over practicality. I know I have in the past, presuming that all sunglasses do what they are supposed to do, that is to protect eyes from the sun. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, with many off-the-shelf lenses placing style above safety. The experts at Leightons Opticians* have given me these tips to share on the ins and outs of choosing sunglasses that are both practical and effective.
The dangers of UV rays
The most important aspect of any pair of sunglasses is how effective they are at blocking harmful UV rays. Extended unprotected exposure to the sun can be very damaging to all aspects of health, with burnt skin perhaps being the most obvious example. Our eyes are no different to our skin in that they are equally susceptible to harm from sunlight. Sunglasses are therefore just as crucial to eyes as suncream is to skin. Our eyes may not experience the same immediate pain and visual trauma of sunburnt skin, but over time UV rays can be a direct cause of macular degeneration, cataracts, and blindness.
You must always check the UV rating of a pair of sunglasses. Only lenses with a UV 400 rating can ensure 100% protection. The colour or shade density of lenses does not correlate to its protective qualities, and it is a common mistake to presume otherwise. Size however does play a factor. Sunglasses with larger frames are recommended due to the fact that they provide optimum coverage and defend against light entering the side of the eye. Confusion can also arise around polarisation. While polarised lenses do well to reduce glare from reflective surfaces, they do not necessarily provide protection against UV rays.
Weighing up the costs
The longevity of your eyesight is invaluable and the cost of protecting it needn’t be excessive at all. You should be aware that the cost of a pair of sunglasses is not necessarily an accurate indication of how effective they are. Cheaper pairs that offer 100% UV protection can be just as safe and practical as more expensive alternatives. This applies to both prescription and off-the-shelf designs. Specialist prescription lenses, however, are the best way to assure accurate and comfortable eye protection that’s tailored to your own vision and facial structure.
Make sure you have a pair of shades you can trust, allowing you to make the most of the sunny weather! If you have questions surrounding the topics discussed or are concerned about any aspect of your eye health, the specialist opticians at Leightons can provide tailored treatment and recommendations.
*Disclosure: this post had been written in collaboration with Leightons Opticians.