Table of Contents

Why should I wear sunglasses?

To prevent damage to eyes by UV rays. UV radiation contributes to development of cataracts, permanent retinal damage (macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness), pingueculae and transient corneal irritation.

What are UV rays?

Invisible short wavelength light (under 400nm) that damages skin and eyes. The main types are UVA and UVB. They go through clouds and reflect from surfaces such as water and snow.

If the sun doesn't bother my eyes, do I still need to wear sunglasses?

Yes. Wear sunglasses even if the sky is overcast. UV rays go through the clouds. Sunglasses are strongly recommended if you are around strongly reflective surfaces such as snow, water, beach sand, etc.

I wear contact lenses - do I still need to wear sunglasses?

Yes. Contact lenses provide only partial UV protection.

What kind of sunglasses should I get?

Look for sunglasses blocking 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Sunglasses labeled as “UV 400,” fulfill those criteria. Check the label. They need not be expensive. If they block UVA and UVB and are free of distortions – they are ok.

What about sunglasses with polarized lenses?

They reduce glare and are particularly popular with people who play water sports and snow sports.

What about sunglasses with different lens tints?

Lens color is a personal choice and doesn’t affect how well sunglass lenses protect you from UV light.

Amber and yellow lenses block blue light and heighten contrast for a sharper image. Some evidence indicates blue light is harmful, and could increase the risk for macular degeneration. These lenses are popular among skiers, hunters, boaters and pilots. Brown is popular with golfers because it provides better contrast on green golf courses.

What about sunglasses with anti-reflective coatings?

Anti-reflecting coating reduces glare caused by light reflecting off the back surface of your sunglass lenses.

What about sunglasses with mirror-coated lenses?

They limit the amount of light entering your eyes making you more comfortable. They are especially beneficial in very bright conditions, such as snow skiing on a sunny day. The color of a mirror coating is a purely cosmetic decision. The color of the mirror coating you choose does not influence your color perception. It is the color of the tinted lens under the coating that determines how mirrored sunglasses affect your color vision

What about gradient lenses?

They are tinted from the top down. The top of the lens is darkest. They are good for driving, because they shield your eyes from overhead sunlight and allow more light through the bottom half of the lens so you can see your dashboard clearly

What about photochromic lenses?

They are UV blocking lenses that adjust their level of darkness based on the amount of UV light to which they are exposed. Most photochromic lenses will not darken inside a car because the windshield glass blocks many UV rays. Some newer lenses darken with both UV and visible light, providing some darkening behind the windshield. While useful, photochromic lenses are not as effective as sunglasses and should not replace a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Ask optician for details. Prescription photochromic lenses cost more than clear eyeglass lenses, but they offer the convenience of reducing the need to carry a pair of prescription sunglasses with you.

My sunglasses are dark - does it mean they are "UV Protective"?

No. The degree of darkness has no effect on UV rays. For adequate protection, you need sunglasses that specifically state on the label that they block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays (UV 400 are ok).

What about sunglasses with impact-resistant lenses?

FDA requires all sunglass lenses to be impact-resistant. If you play sports or wear sunglasses on the job, you might want to consider ultra-impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses for even greater eye safety (polycarbonate is the material used in bullet-proof glass). They cost more than standard plastic lenses and scratch more easily (consider scratch-resistant coating). Sometimes they may also need anti-reflective coating. Polycarbonate lenses are often recommended for children.

Do children need sunglasses?

Yes. Children are particularly at risk because they spend much more time in the sun than adults. UV damage is cumulative over a person’s lifetime. This means you should begin protecting your child’s eyes as soon as possible. Consider polycarbonate lenses if you are concerned about glasses shattering during child’s horseplay.

What kind of sunglasses should I get for my child?

Look for sunglasses offering 99 to 100 percent from both UVA and UVB light. Sunglasses labeled as “UV 400,” fulfill those criteria. Check the label. Lenses should be free from distortions. Polycarbonate is the safest lens material for kids, providing up to 10 times the impact resistance of other lens materials. If the child wears prescription eyeglasses consider photochromic lenses.

What UV protection is available to prescription glasses wearers?

Consider prescription sunglasses, glasses with photochromic lenses (which change from clear to dark), clip-ons, or sun lenses that magnetically attach to the frame.

What about Sports Sunglasses?

They may be safer than regular sunglasses because the lenses and frames are often made of materials less likely to shatter when struck.