A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Look beyond style when picking sunglasses

For many people, sunglasses are a fashion accessory. They’re not wrong about that, but the point about sunglasses is the role they can play in protecting eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Here’s what Marshfield Clinic optometrist Brad Christopherson has to say:

“We worry about two types of UV light, A and B. These rays can enter the eye, damage the back of your eye and cause macular degeneration and cataracts. Another thing you don’t think about is skin cancer right around your eyes.

“When you shop for sunglasses, make sure they provide 100 percent UV protection. You can actually buy some cheaper sunglasses that block out just as much UV as the more expensive sunglasses.”

For good UV protection, ask your optician or look on the tag before you purchase your sunglasses. Additionally, consider tint, glare and lens quality to get the optimal health benefits of wearing sunglasses.

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Tint matters

  • Uniform tint, not darker in one area from another.
  • Gray tints, especially useful for driving because they offer good color recognition.

Block glare from all angles

  • Distortion-free lenses. Look through them at a straight line in the distance, such as the edge of a door or floor tile. Cover one eye and slowly move the lens across the line, side by side and then up and down. Make sure the line doesn’t distort, sway or curve.
  • How much light they block. Try them on in front of a mirror. If you can see your eyes easily, the lenses probably aren’t dark enough.
  • Polarized lenses which reduce reflected glare.
  • “Blue-blocking” lenses that help make distant objects more distinct, especially in snow or haze.
  • Wraparound glasses shaped to keep light from shining around the frames. Although not as stylish as some sunglasses, these protect your eyes from light from all angles.

Protect your eyes indoors and outdoors

  • Photochromic lenses that automatically darken in bright light and become lighter in low light.
  • Polycarbonate lenses, which offer impact resistance, are useful in sports and hazardous work settings.

For more information about choosing sunglasses, talk with your optician.


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