Sunglasses 101: The Science of Sunglass Selection

Summer’s officially here June 21st, 2013. What are you going to do this summer?  Perhaps your plans include lying on the beach reading a nice book and listening to the waves, camping or hanging out at the pool. Regardless, it is important to remember to wear proper sun protection both on your skin and your eyes.

Sunglasses are the must-have accessory for the summertime. Because most of us spend more time outdoors during the summer months, there is an increased risk of damaging the eye due to UV exposure if protective measures are not in place.

Sunglasses can be bought inexpensively from the neighborhood supermarket and drug store, but before making your selection you should determine if they are they protecting your eyes. Here are questions to ask on how to pick the right sunglasses for the summer.

1. Does it have complete UVA/UVB protection?

The lenses should have a sticker that displays “blocks 99% or 100% of UVA/UVB rays” or UV 400 protection.
It must meet the American National Standards Institute Z80.3 requirement which are regulations used ensure the quality of sunglasses sold in stores.

2. Hue

In simple words, the hue of a color is the characteristic that allows it to be classified as red, yellow, green, blue or a mix of these colors.  The hue is necessary for color perception and it dependent on what the situation the sunglasses will be used in.

According to the FDA regulations for sunglasses, a darker lens does not mean that it will be more effective than a lighter one.

Yellow or rose can affect the ability to distinguish with color lights while grey, brown or green can minimize this effect.

3. Are your sunglasses of good quality?

Price plays a factor into buying sunglasses. Sometimes buying an expensive pair of sunglasses isn’t any better than buying a cheap one. WebMD states that to test for optical quality, focus on the vertical edge of line of your sunglasses. Move your head back and forth and allow your eyes to sweep across the line. According to FDA guidelines “If there is any wiggle in the line, then the lenses may have an optical defect and you should choose another pair.”

4. Are they wraparound style sunglasses?

Wrap around styled sunglasses provide better UV protection because they cover the entire eye. This prevents UV exposure that is reflected from all angles. 

Note: for optimal eye protection you should wear a hat and sunscreen with your sunglasses.

Shopping for sunglasses can be fun when you know what to look for when choosing the perfect pair. If you recently had LASIK, the experience of shopping for sunglasses is no longer limiting as you have many more options to consider. Take care of your eyes by choosing a pair that is not only stylish but protective too. Not sure if you can determine this on your own? Stop by the Raleigh Eye Center and speak with one of our skilled Opticians for quality eye protection selections.