When it comes to sunglasses, we all want to choose the most stylish possible brand, the model that best suits our face shape, and the pair that are within our financial means whilst also making us look and seem cool.
However, sunglasses – ‘shades’ – are, as their name suggests, intended for a very vital function: they protect our eyes from the sun’s rays, shielding them from harmful UV. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that sunglasses with UV protection can lower the risk of the wearer developing conditions such as eye cancer, cataracts, and snow blindness. They fulfil an essential safety function, therefore, despite looking good and, we hope, putting us ahead in terms of the latest fashion trends.
Here follows a short but comprehensive guide on the safest sunglasses, which we hope will encourage you to always put safety ahead of fashion when making your choice.
How do sunglasses protect your eyes?
Before we begin, it’s imperative to remember that ‘UV’ = Ultraviolet Radiation. This is a type of radiation produced by the sun as well as by some artificial sources such as solariums. UV is invisible to the human eye, but it still affects us, and it can be potentially harmful, with damage to the cornea, cataracts, or damage that could lead to impaired vision.
Sunglasses with UV protection lenses shield our eyes from this potentially harmful emission, which is ever-present, actually – where there is sunlight, there are UV rays, meaning that this is, essentially, a global occurrence. It’s one reason why we wear sunglasses when we are in snowy climates, as ‘winter sun’ is still ‘sun’ – because UV is invisible, if there is sunlight, then UV rays are still present.
How to choose the best sunglasses to protect your eyes
There are some qualities to consider when making a purchase of a new pair of sunglasses. Always think about the following before you buy, whether your new pair are new or second hand. Your eyes and vision will thank you for it…
1. Choose a pair with UV 400 rating
The best sunglasses for eye protection are those with a UV 400 rating. These filter out between 99% and 100% of UV rays, making them the very best sunglasses to protect your eyes. It’s important to check that the sunglasses you buy have this rating if you want to get the benefits of this protection and ensure you are absolutely shielded from potential eye damage. Most reputable sunglass brands, and the best UV protection sunglasses, will include this as a bespoke statement on their sales label in the USA. In Europe, or for Europe-based brands, the letters ‘CE’, printed on or inside the frames, mean that the lenses possess a UV 400 rating. In Australia, there are four lens categories, from category 0 – which offers just some UV protection – to category 4, which provides good UV protection as well as against extreme glare.
2. Buy oversized sunglasses
The AAO also states that oversized sunglasses can offer greater protection against UV rays, as larger glasses offer more coverage, shielding the eyes more than, say, slimline or super-thin sunglasses, and severely limiting the potential for UV to penetrate through to the delicate eye area. Oversized sunglasses look stylish, which is a bonus, but they’re also one of the best UV sunglasses you can buy, as it turns out. Think aviators, cats’ eye frames, large rectangular lenses, and wraparound shades – the bigger the better, in this case.
3. Don’t assume a higher price means more protection
A higher price tag might persuade you into assuming that those more expensive shades offer more ‘shade’ for your dollar. But don’t be fooled – an inflated price doesn’t necessarily equate to better UV protection. Make sure you search through the information and labelling that accompany your potential purchase – if there is no information on UV given, then quite likely UV protection isn’t included, and there are all sorts of reasons why a price might be higher than lower, too, including design aesthetics, materials used, and transport costs.
True, cheaper sunglasses are less likely to feature UV protection or a very high level of this; but an assumption shouldn’t be made that pricier sunglasses do. And, in the case of second-hand sunglasses, it’s up to you to do your homework.
4. Consider polarized lenses
Although polarized sunglass lenses are not intrinsically also UV sunglasses, they offer an extra level of protection as they help to filter out reflected light and other light-induced anomalies such as glare. Glare is created when light bounces off a solid surface or a body of water; polarized lenses help to ensure that this light doesn’t impact our everyday activities, including sports and driving. Glare can potentially reduce your depth perception, distort your vision, or even result in temporary blindness, all of which are quite obviously very dangerous indeed. So, whilst UV must still be considered as a primary decision when making a purchase, polarization is an important second item to weigh up and evaluate, and you can find out all about it in our own article on polarized sunglass lenses.
UV Protection Sunglasses
Do all Sunglasses have UV protection?
The simple answer to this one is: no. Not all sunglasses offer UV protection, although it’s a general consensus that they should.
Polarized lenses, tinted lenses, colored lenses, dark lenses, scratch-resistant lenses, and those offering ‘glare protection’ (another term meaning polarization) do not give any insight or information on the level of UV protection provided by the lenses themselves. For this, you need to make sure that the sunglasses offer ‘UV protection’, and this could be within a range, not necessarily at the top end i.e. with a maximum UV 400 rating. UV 400, however, is the ideal, and optimum rating which gives the best amount of protection from the sun’s rays.
100% UV Protection with Sunglass Fix Lenses
When it comes time to replace the lenses in your favorite pair of sunglasses, there’s no need to worry about the levels of UV protection in your replacements – we include 100% UV protection as standard. Our lenses are designed to resist the hottest and brightest sunlight conditions – you could be in a desert or on a beach, standing stark beneath a midday sun on an otherwise overcast day – whatever the scenario, our lenses will protect you from the invisible yet ever-present UV rays.
Our article on the topic also gives an insight into the other benefits of purchasing replacement lenses from Sunglass Fix. We offer polarization at a remarkable 99.9% efficacy, for example, and our safety standards rigorously comply with those set not just in Australia but in America and Europe too. Plus, we use tough-as-nails polyamide for our Ultimate lenses, an engineered optic that combines all the strength of plastic with the crystal clarity of pure glass. And, we stock replacement sunglass lenses for all brands, and also offer custom made lenses that fit like a glove.
All our lenses come with guaranteed 100% UV block-out as standard. So, no matter the UV protection rating of any previous lens, you can be sure that our replacement does the job, keeping your sight safe and your eyes protected. In these times of climate change, rising temperatures, and ozone damage, too, that’s another major plus for us and an excellent reason to choose Sunglass Fix.