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Sunglasses

Whether or not you require vision correction, sunglasses can add an element of comfort and enhanced performance to your activities, while helping you look great.

The Importance of Sunglasses

Finding the right pair of sunglasses to fit your personal style is often an important part of making your summer outfit picture perfect. But beyond “picture perfect,” a carefully chosen pair of sunglasses can grant you great health advantages and help safeguard your eyes against the elements.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a familiar concept to many and the damage it can cause to your skin is well known as well. Much less well known, however, is the damage that UV radiation can do to your eyes.

Too much UV radiation can give your eyes a kind of ‘sunburn of the eye,’ called photokeratitis, and excessive UV exposure over your lifetime can significantly increase your chances of developing serious problems with your eyes later in life, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Risks That Sunglasses Prevent

Expert studies suggest that high-quality sunglasses can significantly reduce the number of UV rays entering your eyes, reducing your risk of photokeratitis and long term damage. Furthermore, since they protect the sensitive skin around the eyes from receiving too much direct UV radiation, wearing sunglasses may also help to reduce wrinkles.

Protection Against Glare

The excessive UV radiation is not the only risk sunglasses can help you reduce. Everyday reflective surfaces, such as snow, water, road surfaces, and car windshields, reflect a great deal of light and can do significant damage to your eyes with extended exposure. Good sunglasses can do a great deal to protect your eyes against this glare. Furthermore, sunglasses can help prevent potentially life-threatening situations by reducing the chances that bright glare may momentarily blind you while driving or biking.

Reduce Eyestrain, Headaches and Fatigue

Quality sunglasses are also very important for reducing eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. The opening at the front of the eye, called the pupil, controls the amount of light that enters your eye. In conditions in which a great deal of light is present, such as when you walk outside on a very sunny day, the pupil may be unable to constrict enough to keep light to a comfortable level, causing you to squint in order to further limit the amount of incoming light. Muscle fatigue associated with constant squinting and the continued constriction of the pupil can cause headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain.

As a general rule, any time you step outside, you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. However, there are certain times when this is particularly true: In the summer UV radiation is at least 3 times higher than it is in the winter, and at the beach, no matter the season, reflection from the water can be quite intense. In these situations, sunglasses are an absolute must for proper eye health. This is also true if you've just had any kind of surgery or are taking medicine that makes your eyes extra sensitive to light.

Tory Burch brand sunglasses on woman

Nonprescription Sunglasses

Everyone should have a good pair of sunglasses. Whether you wear prescription eyeglasses or not, sunglasses are important for every age, race, and gender. While sunglasses may be considered a must-have fashion accessory, even more importantly, they play a critical role in protecting your eyes from UV (ultraviolet) and other harmful radiation from the sun. They also shield your eyes from wind, dust, and debris that could cause discomfort, dryness or damage.

Sunglasses should be worn in the winter as well as the summer and should be 100% UV blocking. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay a fortune for your shades. Even cheaper brands of sunglasses are made these days with full UV protection, so take the extra time to ensure you select ones that do offer full protection from the sun’s rays.

Frame Materials

Sunglass frames are made in a wide variety of materials from plastics and acetates, to wood and natural materials to metals, such as aluminum, steel or titanium. Before you select a pair of frames, think about your lifestyle and what type of material will be most suitable for you. If you live an active lifestyle, sturdy and durable frames are a must. If you have sensitive skin, look for a pair made with hypoallergenic material that is light and fits comfortably. Make sure you select a pair that fits well, looks good and properly blocks the sun to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable when you are wearing them.

Sunglasses Shapes

Sunglasses serve as a combination of function and fashion and therefore come in a plethora of shapes and styles. Sunglasses are often larger than eyeglasses to cover more surface area and prevent sunlight from entering around the lenses. While fashion sunglasses are made in all of the latest styles from aviator to cat eyes, round, square and oversized, sports sunglasses are generally more durable and broad, often in wraparound styles that prevent sunlight from entering from the sides as well. Wrap-around frames are a good option for athletes, fishermen, and bikers that spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

Lenses

Lenses are the most important part of any pair of sunglasses. As mentioned above, all lenses should block 100% UV rays but beyond that, there are many options for sunglass lenses. Polycarbonate or trivex lenses are impact-resistant to increase safety during sports and outdoor activities. Polarized lenses help to reduce glare and are particularly helpful during activities on or near the water such as boating, fishing or beaching. Anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings are also beneficial to maintain your best vision in a variety of conditions.

For the fashion conscious there are a number of colors and reflective coatings available for sunglass lenses. It’s best to choose the lenses that allow for the most accurate color vision with the least amount of distortion to ensure they don’t obstruct clear vision.

While it’s important to choose sunglasses that you like from a style and appearance perspective, it’s also important to pay attention to comfort and fit. Here are a few tips for purchasing sunglasses that fit well for maximum comfort and sun protection:

  1. Make sure the lenses completely cover your eyes and provide extra coverage above and to the sides.
  2. The frames shouldn’t pinch at your temples or the nosepiece and should be wide enough for your face.
  3. Ensure that the frames aren’t too wide and stay in place when you move your head around.
Sunglasses for Prescription Eyeglass Users

If you wear prescription eyeglasses there are a number of options for sun protection. These options include Prescription Sunglasses, photochromic lenses (which turn from clear lenses to dark when you go outside), clip-ons, fitovers (which are sunglasses that go over your prescription eyewear) or wearing contact lenses with plano (non-prescription) sunglasses. Speak to your optician to determine the best option for you.

Prescription Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an important way to protect your eyes and ensure clear and comfortable vision when you are on the go. In addition to causing temporary vision loss, the sun’s bright rays can lead to long term eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can also cause sunburns on the eyes and over time, can lead to diseases such as macular degeneration.

For those who wear prescription eyeglasses, sun protection is available in a number of options including prescription sunglasses, photochromic lenses or eyeglasses with clip-on sunglass lenses. The best solution depends on your personal preferences, comfort and which option fits in best with your lifestyle.

Prescription Sunglasses

These days, sunglasses are not only highly fashionable but remarkably functional for a wide variety of activities. Sport and athletic sunglasses for example provide eye protection, reduced glare and better contrast to improve performance in a range of outdoor conditions. Individuals with prescription eyewear can also benefit from the advantages of these specialty eyewear by purchasing prescription lenses.

Prescription sunglasses are available for virtually all vision prescriptions including those for farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism, as well as bifocal and progressive lenses. Almost any pair of sunglasses can be fit with prescription lenses as long as the shape of the lens doesn’t distort vision (which happens for example with extremely wide wraparound lenses). Therefore if the latest pair of designer sunglasses catches your eye, there should be no problem in fitting a prescription lens to the frame.

You can also get prescription lenses in most lens materials and with most lens coatings, including polarized lenses (for glare protection), tinted lenses, anti-scratch coatings, polycarbonate or Trivex lenses (for extra durability) and more.

Even for those individuals who do wear contact lenses, prescription sunglasses are a fantastic solution when you prefer not to wear your contacts, such as when your eyes feel dry or irritated (during allergy season or in dusty or sandy locations for example), when you are going swimming (it’s advised not to wear contact lenses swimming in any body of water due to risk of infection) or when you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of contacts. Prescription sunglasses give you yet another option for comfort, safety and great vision.

Photochromic Lenses

Photochromic lenses are another alternative for the prescription eyeglass wearer. These lenses darken in response to sunlight turning your regular prescription eyewear into prescription sunglasses. Photochromic lenses are a convenient solution for glasses wearers who find it a hassle to carry around two pairs of glasses. No matter what shape or style, you can protect your eyes and spruce up your outdoor look or your sports performance with a pair of prescription sunglasses.

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