Sunglasses are a sartorial must, but in addition to upping your style factor, they also play an important role in protecting your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays, decreasing eye strain, and even warding off wrinkles. Before you pick out your next pair of must-have sunnies, it’s important to make sure the types of sunglass lenses you choose will protect your precious peepers.
The Basics: What to Look For
Just like sunscreen for your skin, sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging UV rays, which can cause long term damage including: permanent retinal damage, pingueculae, cataracts, and photokeratitis.
Regardless of your preferred style, it’s essential that your sunglass lenses protect you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. When shopping, make sure to read the label and look for “UV 400,” which translates to lenses that will block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. For additional coverage, wraparound and oversized sunglasses can help block stray UV light.
Types of Sunglass Lenses
Options abound for different lenses including polarized, mirrored, and tinted lenses. If you have specific needs, check with your optician for a recommendation.
If the name sounds familiar, polarized lens technology was created by Edwin W. Land in 1936, the co-founder of Polaroid and the inventor of everyone’s favorite instant photography.
Polarized lenses feature a special coating that blocks out glare. You’ll squint less and be able to see with more clarity, color and sharper detail in bright light. They are especially popular at the beach, out on the water or in the snow, when glare can be a major issue. For extra coverage, choose a pair that also has backside anti-glare coating to prevent additional light from reflecting off the back side of the lenses.
Polarized lenses do not look any different than normal lenses, and are available in brown, green, and grey tints. Whether you prefer aviator or Wayfarer sunglasses you can easily add a polarized lens without sacrificing your style.
Tint color does not affect how well your lenses will protect you from UV rays. Specific tints, however, can affect color and contrast perception in different environments.
Light colors, such as yellow, rose, and amber are best in low-level to moderate light conditions where they can improve contrast and depth perception. Darker lenses, including brown, grey and green, are great everyday lenses and are useful in most outdoor activities. Brown lenses may cause slight color distortion, whereas color perception will be on point with grey and green lenses.
Mirrored lenses have a highly reflective coating applied to the front surface of the lens, which can help reduce the amount of light hitting the eye. However, they will not protect the eye in the same way as a polarized lens, and are more for fun than for protection.
Mirrored lenses now come in all colors of the rainbow, including hot pink, blue, gold, silver and more. Added bonus: they’ll keep your innermost thoughts at bay, fully masked by those reflective mirror lenses.
Whatever type of sunglass lenses you choose, don’t forget to wear your sunglasses every time you go outside—not just when it’s sunny—because UV rays go straight through clouds.
Find the perfect pair of shades for every day and protect your precious eyes at the same time. Check out cohensfashionoptical.com for a list of stores near you, or visit the location at 825 Broadway for many of the brands and styles mentioned above.