Buying a good pair of sunglasses is harder than you think. It’s not enough that you look great in them. Aside from aesthetics, there are several things to consider. These include the amount of ultraviolet (UV) protection they give, the material they’re made of and how you will use them.
UV protection is important because the sun’s rays can seriously damage your eyes. While most UV rays are absorbed by the atmosphere, UV-B and UV-A aren’t. Of the two, UV-B rays are the deadliest although both UV-A and UV-B can lead to a host of eye problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration – both of which can lead to blindness.
For your safety, wear rectangle sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Contrary to popular belief, dark lenses won’t protect your eyes from UV rays unless they say so. The color of the lens has no effect on UV rays so don’t be misled.
Some contact lenses may stop UV rays but their level of protection isn’t as good as sunglasses. Choose models labeled UV 400 which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. Wraparound sunglasses offer an added layer of security since they prevent harmful UV rays from entering around the frame. They also protect the eyes from dirt and the wind.
“Most people think that they’re at risk only when they’re outside on a sunny day, but UV light can go right through clouds so it doesn’t matter if the sky is overcast. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” revealed All About Vision.
Whether you use glass or plastic lenses depends entirely on what you do. Glass lenses have the best optical clarity and are less prone to scratches but they’re heavier than plastic and break easily. Plastic lenses are lighter and less likely to shatter but they scratch easily.
If you engage in a lot of outdoor sports, consider buying a pair of sports goggles. While all sunglasses are required by the Food and Drug Administration to be impact-resistant, they aren’t as strong as sports goggles that are made of polycarbonate – the same material used in aircraft windshields. These are 50 times stronger than glass lenses.