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In The Know: Tips for Buying Sunglasses

SunBuddy Lotion Applicator - Tips For Buying Sunglasses

Not only is UV radiation bad for your skin, it is just as bad for your eyes. Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration (blindness), and cancerous growths on the eye. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. Excessive exposure to UV can be caused by sunlight reflected off sand, water, or pavement.

Thus, it is important that you wear sunglasses every time you are outside, no matter the season of the year. Snow reflects nearly 80 percent of sunlight while beach sand only 15%. And just because it is cloudy outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear your sunglasses. UV radiation is invisible and penetrates through clouds.

Prices for sunglasses range from few dollars to a few hundred, making it difficult to choose the right one. Do expensive brand name sunglasses necessarily mean better protection? In some cases yes, in some cases no. Sunglasses from Ray-Ban or Oakley will be more comfortable, durable, scratch resistant and higher quality than sunglasses from your local drug store. But if the cheap sunglasses offer 100% UV Protection, then they offer just as much protection as the more expensive sunglasses.

Here are some more tips for buying proper sunglasses.

UVA/UVB Protection Rating:
Look for a label that reads “UV 400”, “100% UV Protection” or “Blocks 98% of UVA and UVB Rays.”  Sunglasses that block UV radiation up to 400 nanometers is the equivalent to blocking 100% of UV rays.

Avoid sunglasses with vague labels that read “UV Protective” or “UV Absorbing” because they offer little to no protection at all.  Also, avoid paying extra for UV coating on sunglasses that already provide 100% UV protection.

The FDA does not regulate that sunglasses must provide any particular level of UV protection, so when in doubt, stick with brands that specialize in sunglasses such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Maui Jim.

Optic Quality:
Many brand name sunglasses have lenses that provide clear, sharp vision. Also, the plastic materials in these lenses will be thicker and won’t wrap when exposed to heat like the thinner lenses in cheap sunglasses.

However, if is possible to find sunglasses around $30-70 that are high quality and offer excellent optics with this simple test. First, hold the frame perfectly level from an arm’s distance away. Then, move the lenses slowly side to side and up and down as you focus on a stationary object (sign, parked car, door frame) in the distance. As you move the lenses across the object, the image should not shift and lines should not bend or distort.

Light vs. Dark Tints:
Don’t be fooled by dark tints. The tint of the sunglasses has nothing to do with the amount of UV protection they provide. It is more important that the sunglasses are correctly labeled to provide 100% UV Protection.

To Polarize or Not to Polarize:
Polarized lenses block horizontal waves of light that create glare. So, if you are frequently being distracted by glare while driving, boating, or skiing, then it may worth paying a little extra more. However, polarized sunglasses might interfere with clearly seeing LCD, digital, and cell phone displays. Be sure to test them out before investing the extra dollars.

Wrap-Around Styles:
Choose sunglasses that adequately shield the sensitive skin around your eyelids and prevent sunlight from entering from the side. Wrap-around shades provide the most sun protection since they cover your eyes from temple to temple. But if this style isn’t for you, then go with the current trend of having larger frames that cover your face from brow to the top of the cheekbone.

Tags: In The Know, Tips