What to look for in a new pair of sunglasses

Sunglasses play a critical role in healthy eyesight.


Yes, they can be a statement accessory for any look. But when we are choosing a pair of sunglasses, frame color and style aren't the only considerations. 


The lenses do the heavy lifting of protecting your eyes from sun damage, yet many people don’t pay enough attention to the lenses they buy. Be honest, how much does lense quality factor into your purchase decision?


The dangers of too much sunlight

If you don’t consider lense protection much, let’s change that as it plays into the health of your eyes. The sun can do some pretty serious damage over the years if you expose your eyes too often for too long. Ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun can cause a number of issues like cataracts, corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, pterygium and skin cancer around the eyelids. 


The glare from the sun is also an issue. When light hits a flat surface like a lense, it polarizes, or reflects horizontally.This causes a glare and makes it impossible to see, sometimes called a blinding glare. It sounds merely annoying, but it can be dangerous when driving, for example.


Protect your eyes with better lenses

Of course, sunglass lenses protect the eyes from UV light because the dark shade absorbs the sunlight. But this isn’t enough. Blinding glare is a functional problem. The reflections from a glare can be uniform, which is light reflected from a smooth service like the road, or off a car’s bumper or back window. They can also be non-uniform, which means the light reflects from an uneven surface like running water or a patch of ice on the road.


Regardless, you need to filter out the distracting reflected light for clear viewing.


What are polarized lenses?

Polarized lenses are those that have been specially-treated to eliminate sun glare. When the lenses are manufactured, a special chemical is applied to the eyeglass lens to polarize it. The chemical is laminated in a vertical pattern, which reorganizes the light and blocks the horizontal light to eliminate glare. Think of it similarly to how a window blinds work.


Glare typically happens when waves of light bounce off reflective surfaces. If the surface is horizontal, the light will reflect horizontally. When you are wearing polarized sunglasses, the surface blocks the glare by filtering out the horizontal light waves that don’t fit through the chemical laminate pattern.


Things may look darker while wearing polarized lenses. When glare is eliminated, however, the image details are easier to see and can reduce eye strain. Plus, polarized lenses also provide protection from harmful UV rays.

 

We only get one pair of eyes, so it’s important that we protect them with high-quality sunglasses. There’s no reason why you’d have to choose between style and protection. Make it a habit to prioritize UV protection and polarization as much as well as style and fit. Remember, sunglasses have an important job. They are an investment in your wardrobe and your eye health, so it’s best you make an informed decision.

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