Aside from introducing a world of fashionable choices, sunglasses are essential to protecting your eyes from harsh sunlight. UltraViolet rays (UV rays) emitted from the sun are extremely harmful to the eyes and this piece of apparel could save you from long-term damage and even vision loss. With that said, how do sunglasses protect your eyes and what sort of rays should we be careful of?
Why is it essential to protect your eyes from sunlight?
Unfortunately, there’s more to UV rays to worry about when it comes to protecting your eyes from sunlight. UVA Rays are the prominent form of light that encompasses 95% of UV radiation. This form of light is partially filtered by the Earth’s Ozone Layer, but still reaches the planet’s surface. It is also the most consistent form of rays and can hurt the eyes with overexposure, regardless of the harshness of sunlight.
People are more commonly exposed to UVB Rays at higher altitudes - more potent and results in the common “sunburn”, wrinkles and skin cancer. With regards to vision problems, pinguecula, pterygium and photokeratitis are potential conditions to avoid. Despite the negativity, low doses of UVB light stimulates melanin production which is responsible for tans. Finally, UVC light has the highest energy among the three types of rays and is the most harmful for the body. These rays are contained by our Ozone layer and aren’t much of a concern in terms of exposure.
The UV Index is a useful metric designed by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Weather Service to quantify a warning system for people based on UV radiation exposure on a daily basis. Your local weather forecast should indicate this too. From 0 to 11+, any number below 5 indicates that unprotected exposure to sunlight will pose little risks - a useful system to take note of when deciding whether you should be wearing your sunglasses or not.
How to choose a sunglass for eye protection from UV rays?
100% UV protection
Sunglasses quality plays a crucial role when shopping for a pair. Going to the common market and picking a stylish pair with cheap price tags that will not protect you from harmful UV rays, regardless of how dark the lenses appear to be. The most reliable place to purchase a pair of sunglasses is by visiting a credible optician who can recommend a selection that blocks 100% of UV rays.
The thought of looking for the darkest lenses possible when picking out a pair of sunglasses shouldn’t be entertained, as even lightly tinted ones can offer 100% UV protection if certified by the brand. By opting for this, your pair of sunglasses function as a barrier that reflects UV rays, with UVA and UVB rays penetrating different parts of the eyeball.
Presence of Anti-reflective coating
Sunglasses that are not made for UV protection will lack consistency in reflecting rays and can allow varying amounts of UV all the way to the retina and cornea. Good quality lenses come with various layers of coats that safeguard the eyes effectively. UV coating serves as the primary substance of the main lens that contains metallic oxide pigments. Anti-reflective coating is placed closest to the eye and reduces internal glare and reflections on the wearer’s side of the lens. Mirror coating does the exact opposite and houses an ultra-thin coat of reflective molecules that were made for optimal ray reflection.
Understanding the world of differences with good quality lenses will allow you to be more discerning with your choices the next time you shop for a pair. Selecting models with a good fit is just as important; sunglasses that don’t properly cover your peripheral vision will reduce the point of the lens, as UV rays may enter your eyes regardless. Depending on your lifestyle, some archetypes may prove functionally superior to others.
Consider your purpose
If you’re under the sun all day, doing vigorous activities like running or cycling, opting for sports shades are definitely your best bet. With an emphasis on firm fitting, some brands sport special rubber on the bridge and temples to help keep it in place. Biker goggles and mountain style pairs serve the same purpose. Clip-on and foldable are kings when it comes to convenience, but can struggle to fit many face shapes and may break easily.
Best Sunglasses Brands For Eye protection
Now that the archetypes and UV protection are out of the way, it’s time to find the best brands that can cleverly blend safety for the eyes with style. Gucci, Prada, and Versace are safe picks that can offer quality craftsmanship and a plethora of designs to choose from. A pair from these brands are sold between USD$300 to USD$400. These choices aren’t the kindest to the wallet but definitely bang for your buck in the luxury department.
If you’re looking for light-hearted casual brands, Ray-Ban and DKNY have you covered just above US$100. These aren’t in the same league as the more luxurious brands out there, but they are respectable and offer a healthy selection that can work for anyone. Sportier brands like Nike, Oakley, and ROKA are your best choices. These brands dramatically vary in prices as sports models can be oceans apart in terms of quality under the same name.
Sunglasses aren’t too complicated to shop for; keeping UV reflection grades in mind, the rest becomes more preferential than anything else. Once you’ve secured top quality lenses and a shape that fits well, only then can personal preference be considered.
Sunglasses aren’t too complicated to shop for; keeping UV reflection grades in mind, the rest becomes more preferential than anything else. Once you’ve secured top quality lenses and a shape that fits well, only then can personal preference be considered