Whether it’s summer, winter, or fall, we’re so concentrated on making sure our bodies are well protected from the heat or cold but what about our eyes? You probably forgot about them until now, however, sunglasses pay a crucial role when it comes to protection. Read on to discover how to choose sunglasses for the outdoors.
Sunglasses work to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays which are produced by the sun. A pair of sunglasses also helps you reduce eyestrain in bright environments and protect you from debris entering into your eyes.
Any pair of sunglasses you purchase, ones that come with UV protection, will offer you these features. But no matter what pair of sunglasses you choose, you need to make sure that your pair is comfortable to wear regardless of the activity you’re doing.
If not, the likelihood of you wearing them are slim. In this article, we’re going to show you how to choose the best sunglasses for you.
How do your eyes work?
Now, before we even talk about the different types of sunglasses and the construction, it’s important to understand how your eyes work. That way, you can see why you need a pair of sunglasses.
Sunglasses aren’t just for style, they’re here to protect you. There are many parts of our eye which help us create sight. In essence, we “see” with our brains, our eyes simply collect the information and process it.
If we’re outside in daylight, light passes through our corneas which is a transparent film that covers the front of the eye. The cornea is dome-like and when introduced to light, it bends.
The iris sits behind the cornea, and it’s the colors part of the eye which helps control the size of the pupil. The pupil controls the amount of light that will need to enter the eye. Behind the pupil, you have the lens, which is clear and focuses the light or object onto the retina.
The retina is extremely delicate and is made of photosensitive tissues that house photoreceptor cells. Once light hits the retina, it converts the light into electrical signals. The electrical signals that are formed are then processed and travel from the retina to the brain.
The signals are sent through the optic nerve which has about one million nerve fibers. Though our eyes may be small and seemingly simple, it’s an extremely complex procedure which is completed in milliseconds.
Eye Health Facts
- The eyes are typically exposed to UV rays more often during the morning hours of 8 am to 10 am and in the afternoon hours of 2 pm and 4 pm.
- There are three types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.
- UVC rays are considered the most dangerous form of radiation, however, the earth’s atmosphere filters the UVC rays.
- UVB rays cannot penetrate the skin, however, you’re at a higher risk of exposure in high altitudes.
- UVA rays are the most common form of radiation and account for 95% of surface UV.
- Children have the highest risk of UV-related vision damage. This is due to children having immature lenses.
- Your eyes can get sunburned!
- Almost 60% of adults choose not to wear sunglasses when it’s cloudy. However, UV rays are extremely strong during cloudy weather as well.
- Light eyes have a higher risk of damage because they have less protection against the sun.
- Exposure to UV rays adds up over time, resulting in long-term vision conditions.
- Not taking any action to reduce UV rays from entering in and around your eyes may lead to further deterioration.
- The more time you spend outdoors, the high chance you have of ending up with a sun-related health issue in life.
- Most eye cancer occurs on the lower eyelid. It’s the area that receives the most sun in comparison to other areas of the eye. This can help reduce by wearing hats and sunglasses.
Eye conditions to look out for
Though you can use SPF for your skin, what can you use for your eyes? Wearing a pair of sunglasses can help protect your eyes from developing a variety of conditions caused by UV rays:
- Cataracts: Results from the World Health Organization shows that over 900,000 people are blind due to cataracts which are caused by UV exposure. Cataracts are a cloudy lens in the eye.
- Pterygium: this is the abnormal growth of tissue which leads to inflammation and distortion of vision. It’s also called surfer’s eye.
- Macular Degeneration: over a long period of time, UV rays damage the macula lutea. This area of the eye has millions of light-sensing cells which allow us to see fine details. Macular degeneration leads to vision loss.
- Skin Cancer: around 10% of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.
- Photokeratitis: this is when the eye itself is sunburned. It is temporary, taking 48 hours to heal, however, is extremely painful and causes sensitivity and blurred vision.
Everyone wants to be able to have proper vision and after reading those eye conditions, you may be motivated even more to find a pair of sunglasses. But what sunglasses do you need?
What kind of sunglasses do you need?
You probably didn’t know this but just like your skin, your eyes can also get sunburned, it sounds horrible, doesn’t it? The corneas, which is a transparent layer on top of your eyes which protect important components of your eyes, in particular, are prone to getting sunburned.
Unfortunately, these types of sunburns are irreparable, thus, you’ll want to make sure that you protect your eyes. By now, you should probably understand the importance of protecting your eyes.
But now the question is, what kind of sunglasses do you need? That’s a good question. Of course, you can wear any pair of sunglasses, however, they’re usually divided into a couple categories, making it easier for you to choose from. It’s normal for people to have a couple different pairs of sunglasses depending on what they’re going to be wearing them for.
For example, if you’re planning on walking around your city, you most likely don’t need a pair of sunglasses which are made of highly grippy material. Curious to know the types of sunglasses available? Well, keep on reading.
- Casual: This is the most typically worn type of sunglasses which you’ll see people wearing for basic activities and throughout the day. Since they’re casual, they focus on providing your eyes with some shade from the sun while you’re walking, having a coffee, or at the park with your dog. There are some sunglasses which can handle light activity, however, more often than not, they don’t do well with any form of sport.
- Sport: If you’re into sports such as running, hiking, biking, and jogging, then you’re probably interested in getting yourself a pair of sports sunglasses. These sunglasses are equipped with lightweight material and are designed to withstand paced activity. Now, for more high-end sports sunglasses, the lens and frame will be anti-abrasion and more flexible in comparison to your causal sunglasses. In addition, your sports sunglasses will feature grip pads on both the temple ends and nose which will help keep your sunglasses on while you’re sweating. These sunglasses tend to have interchangeable lens, so you’ll be able to customize the sunglasses depending on the lighting conditions.
- Glacier: These are glasses that you mostly won’t encounter unless you’re a mountaineer. Glacier sunglasses are speciality glasses which are specifically designed in order to protect your eyes from intense light which is common in high altitude areas. This is because the sun reflects off the snow, shining into your eyes. These sunglasses are designed with wrap-around extensions which assist by preventing the sun from shining into the sides of the glasses.
Sunglass Lens Guide
Though you make think that the frame is important, which it is, the lens is the main part of your sunglasses. The lens is what essentially prevents the UV rays from entering your eyes, they’re the protects of your cornea. Thus, it’s essential that you take the time in understanding lens features and what you need to look for in your next pair of sunglasses. Here’s everything you need to know about sunglasses lens.
There are three main features of lenses that you can choose from: polarized, interchangeable, photochromic.
- Interchangeable lenses: There are some sunglasses which offer interchangeable lenses. Essentially, you’re able to remove the lenses and switch them from color to color depending on your needs. The interchangeable lenses option allows you to customize the type and level of eye protection you need for your particular activity. If you’re going to be engaging in a variety of sports, then interchangeable lenses will give you more freedom to suit specific situations.
- Polarized lenses: A polarized lens is designed to significantly reduce the amount of glare you receive from the sun. Polarized lenses are great for people who are going to be performing water sports or those who are extremely sensitive to glare. Now, there are some polarized lenses which will react with tinted windshields, creating a blind spot and reducing visibility. If you’re experiencing this problem, opt for mirrored lenses instead which will reduce the glare.
- Photochromic lenses: A photochromic lens will automatically alert itself to specific light conditions. These lenses will slowly become darker when in bright environments and when it dark environments, they’ll become lighter. They’re ideal if you’re going to be performing long-distance activities such as hiking or backpacking as they’ll adjust to the diminishing daylight. Though, one thing you should know about the photochromic lens, they take longer to activate during cold conditions and will not work while you’re driving because UVB rays do not go through windshields.
Now that you know the three types of lenses available, think about your needs and which one will best suit you. You may need more than one option to best suit your activities.
Having a couple different pairs will give you more choice and allow you to customize your protection against the sun. But you may be asking yourself now, how much light should be reaching my eyes anyways?
Visible Light Transmission
Now, regardless of the lens you choose, whether it’s photochromic, polarized, or interchangeable,the light will still enter through your sunglasses. That’s right, the lenses do protect your eyes from UVB rays, but of course, light penetrates the lens. Now, the amount of light which enters your eyes through the lenses is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). This is measured by percentages.
You may be wondering how VLT is measured. Well, the VLT of a pair of sunglasses is decided through the color, thickness, material, and coating that’s used on the lenses. The lower the number, the ‘darker’ the sunglasses will be. You may sometimes see the VLT measured in this category of protection:
|4||Very Strong Light||3-8%|
For example, category 4 and 3 are ideal for bright and sunny environments. Category 2 are you average, multi-use lenses, category 1 is ideal for overcast conditions and low-light conditions, while, lastly, category 0 is designed for low light conditions such as evenings. It’s important to know that category 4 lenses are not suitable for driving as they filter out too much light, reducing visibility.
Visible light Transmission, as stated earlier, is measured by the color and the coating which is applied to the lenses. The colors of the lens will also affect the way you see the world through your sunglasses. We’re going to talk about lens colors now to help you have a better understanding of what color you may need.
Sunglass Lens Colors
Most of us think that the tints on lenses are because of aesthetics. We think that yellow or red lenses are trending this season but that’s not actually the reason why they’re on sunglasses. Lens colors actually affect the way the light touches your eyes, how well you see the color around you, as well as the contrasts. They’re divided into two categories:
- Light colors: light colors are considered to be yellow, amber, rose, and gold. These colors work to emphasize moderate-to-low level lighting conditions. If you’re going to performing winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. These lenses provide you with excelled depth perception, improve your visibility of objects, make the environment look brighter, and lastly, they enhance flat-light conditions.
- Dark colors: dark colors are considered to be brown, green, and grey. These colors are ideal for everyday use and general outdoor activities. Darker colors are used specifically to reduce glare and eyestrain in moderate-to-bright lighting conditions. Now, brown lenses may cause minor distortion, so this is something to aware of, while grey and green lenses will not distort any colors.
We want you to select the best lens color for you, so, we’re going to break it down every more for you and go into more detail with each color.
|Red/Pink||Enhances depth and contrast while also reducing eye strain. It’s ideal for a majority of weather conditions and driving.|
|Grey||Grey is ideal for all-around color enhancement.|
|Brown/Amber||Enhances contrast. Ideal for all-purpose activities.|
|Green||Emphasizes green, great for sports which are field-based such golf.|
|Yellow/Orange||Yellow/Orange is ideal for low-light conditions as it emphasizes relief.|
Now that you have a better idea of lenses and the importance of choosing the right color, it’s time we took a look at lens coatings. You probably have never thought about it before, however, this feature is important especially for sports sunglasses.
Sunglass Lens Coating
Most of us have never thought about whether or not our sunglasses include any protective coating. When we’re looking for a pair of sunglasses, we usually focus on style and comfort. However, the lens coating on your sunglasses is an important feature that you shouldn’t ignore.
Though this may not necessarily be a requirement for casual sunglasses, many high-end companies will include lens coatings on their sunglasses. Okay, you’ve heard the term ‘lens coatings’ but you aren’t really sure what it means, please, allow us to explain.
Typically, high-quality sunglasses include several layers of coating on the lenses. These coatings are designed to provide you with a couple extra features while also protecting the lens.
For example, some lenses include a hydrophobic coating which is designed to repel water, while an anti-scratch coating will make sure that your lenses are durable and clear of markings. In addition, there’s also an anti-fog coating if you’re going to be using the sunglasses in either humid or during intense physical activity.
There are also coatings such as mirrored coatings which work by applying a reflective film to the exterior of the lens. The film reduces glare as it reflects as much light as possible away from the lens.
Though, if you’re going to opt for a mirrored lens, it’s important to know that the coating will automatically make any object appear dark, thus, you should choose a lighter lens to make up for the loss of light. Before we move on, let’s recap the types of coatings that are available for your lenses.
- Anti-fog coating: this prevents condensation and improves longevity.
- Water-repellent coating: it works by making the water roll off the lens. It’s ideal if you’re going to be near water or in rainy weather conditions.
- Scratch resistance: this coating is designed to protect your lens from scratches. It protects scratch-prone materials such as plastic and polycarbonate.
- Flash finish: it increases filtration of visible light.
- Oil-repellent finish: our fingers carry oil on them regardless if your hands are clean. This reduces fingerprints and makes the lens easier to clean.
- Anti-reflective coating: this coating is placed on the interior side of the lens, it works by reducing eye strain and preventing glare.
Sunglass Lens Material
You may think that all lenses are made of the same material, however, that isn’t the case. In reality, there are a variety of materials that can be used in your sunglass lenses. Each material affects the weight, durability, and, of course, cost. Here are some of the more common materials used in lenses.
- Glass: if you’re finding that the sunglasses you’re trying on are a little heavy, that’s probably because the lenses are made of glass. Glass has exceptional clarity with the best scratch resistance. But, like we said, it’s heavier than other materials and more costly. In addition, if you drop your sunglasses, the lens will spider, however, it won’t shatter.
- Acrylic: these aren’t ideal for sports sunglasses as you’ll need something more durable. Acrylic is cheap in comparison to the other materials, however, you won’t be able to perform any high-intensity sports with them. There best used for casual wear as they’re less durable and less clear than the other materials.
- Polyurethane: if you’re going to be performing intense activities, then polyurethane is a great material to choose. It’s impact-resistant and has amazing clarity. In addition, it’s also lightweight and flexible. But there is a downside, it’s expensive. Though it’s expensive, if you’re needing a pair of reliable sunglasses, it’s best to invest in a decent pair.
- Polycarbonate: Now, if you don’t have the budget for polyurethane, there’s polycarbonate. It has amazing impact-resistance, similar to polyurethane, and has exceptional clarity. The big difference is that it’s more affordable, however, less scratch-resistant.
Think about what you’re going to be using these sunglasses for and choose a material that will support your needs. If you’re going to be highly active, then it’s best if you really invest in a supportive lens.
Sunglass Frame Material
Though the lenses are extremely important, you also want to make sure that you have a decent frame that’ll properly support it. Choosing a frame is equally as important as choosing a lens since it’s going to be in direct contact with your head. Thus, you want a frame that’ll be durable and comfortable.
- Plastic: you’ll find plastic in low-end sunglasses or casual sunglasses. They tend to be heavier and a little rougher in comparison to other materials. However, they’re able to withstand through any weather condition.
- Acetate: this is a plant-based plastic which is strong, flexible, and lightweight. It’s constructed by cutting and forming sheets of plastic, this form of layering produces vibrant color.
- Metal: this is more expensive than other materials and is less durable, thus, they’re best for casual sunglasses rather than sport. The metal can be made from titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum.
- Nylon: is inexpensive, durable, and lightweight material for frames.
- Grilamid TR90: is a light, flexible nylon/plastic mix which is popular in the industry as it holds the shape very well.
- Wood: this material is actually gaining mainstream popularity as it gives the frame a warm feel, however, you can only wear this frame for casual use.
- Castor-based plastic: this is derived from the castor plant and is another plastic alternative. The frames and eco-friendly and sustainable as well.
Choosing a frame material is important as you see each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Look at the activities you’re going to be doing and see which frame best compliments them.
We rarely look at the curvature of sunglasses, however, there are actually very few sunglasses which are designed to rest flat across your face. In reality, most sunglasses have a curve which is called a base curve.
If your sunglasses are for casual wear, they’ll have a shallow base curve (Base 4 or Base 5), meaning the sunglasses don’t sit close to your face as wrap-around styles usually do (Base 8).
In essence, the more shallow a base curve is, the more light will enter from indirect angles. If you’re going to be performing sports, you’ll want a base curve which has a higher base curve. But sports sunglasses automatically have a higher base curve, so it shouldn’t be a problem in finding a pair. Casual sunglasses will have a shallow base cure since they’re only used for eye protection.
Fit & Style
Your sunglasses need to properly fit your head. If not, you may end up having the problem of having your sunglasses drop off your face or irritate the bridge of your nose or ears.
So, when trying on sunglasses, there are a couple things you need to look for in regards to fit. Of course, you want to make sure you choose one that suits you, as we’ll discuss later on, but you also want to make sure that they’re properly fitted for your face. When trying on sunglasses, follow these fit tips:
- Make sure that your eyelashes are not coming in contact with the frame.
- Your frames should be fitting snug on your ears and nose, however, they shouldn’t be rubbing or pinching either.
- On some sunglasses, you’ll be able to adjust the nose pieces by either pinching them closer or expanding it further apart.
- The weight of the sunglasses should be balanced between your ears and nose. You shouldn’t be feeling heaviness on any part of your body that comes into contact with your sunglasses. You also want the frame light enough to avoid friction with both the ears and nose.
- On some sunglasses, you may be able to adjust frames if they’re made of metal. You can do this by bending the frame at the bridge.
Now, what if you’re shopping online? What are you going to do then since you’re not able to try them on beforehand? Well, you’re not out of luck. Make sure you look at the product description as it’ll have displayed the fit guidelines. Some brands offer a general idea of how they fit, such as “fits smaller faces”, while other brands will include several sizes or adjustable features for their sunglasses.
How to choose the sunglasses for your face shape
We told you everything about material, features, and functionality. Though these aspects will influence which pair of sunglasses you end up buying, what happens is that style and fit tend to override them. Remember, regardless of the type of sunglasses you’re going to choose, what’s important to remember is that there’s a style out there for everyone. All you need to do is get yourself to the store.
Trying on sunglasses can sometimes be an exhausting task as after trying on a couple pairs, we can easily become discouraged. But you just need to know your face shape and the type of style that best suits it. There are four common face shapes: heart, round, square, and oval.
If you’re having a problem finding out what face shape you are, try this trick. You’ll need a mirror, a bar of soap, and a dry erase marker. Make sure your hair is pulled back from your face.
Standing in front of the mirror, trace your face outline right onto the mirror. Then step aside and examine the shape. You’ll see that it’ll fall into one of the four categories. Now that you know your face shape, here are the types of sunglasses that suit each face.
|Heart||For heart-shaped faces, the narrowest part is the jawline. You’ll want frames which are wider at the top than they are at the bottom.||Cat eye, sport, wayfarer|
|Round||For round-shaped faces, the widest part is the cheekbone and narrowest at the forehead and jawline. Square, wayfarer and cat eye styles set off the roundness.||Square, wayfarer, cat eye|
|Square||For square-shaped faces, they have strong jawlines, wide foreheads and wide cheeks. Softening these features means you’ll want to choose styles with either soft lines or rimless edges.||Round, shield, aviator|
|Oval||For oval-shaped faces, it’s longer than it is wide. You’ll be able to wear any round or square frame. Make sure you don’t go too big or too small, proportions are important with oval-shaped faces.||Oversized, aviator, wayfarer|
10 tips on keeping your eyes healthy
Your eyes are an extremely important part of your body. With that being said, you need to make sure that you take good care of your eyes. We’re going to show some great tips for keeping your eyes in tip-top shape.
- Get tested. You should schedule yourself an eye exam every year. A dilated eye exam is the only way you’ll be able to detect many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration.
- What’s your family’s eye history? Your family’s health history is extremely important to know. If anyone has been diagnosed with eye conditions or diseases, they may be hereditary. By knowing the history, you’ll be able to see which diseases and conditions you are at risk for developing.
- Food can protect your eyes. By now, you should know the importance of diet when it comes to your entire body. However, there are specific foods you can eat which will help to protect your eyes.Focus on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, however, specifically dark leafy greens. This includes spinach, kale, broccoli, and green pepper. In addition, consuming omega-3 fatty acids from either a supplement or by eating salmon, tuna, or halibut are essential.
- Rest your eyes. If you’re spending a majority of your day in front of the computer or focusing your eyes on something, you tend to not blink as much which can make your eyes tired. Give yourself the 20-20-20 rule. This rule means for ever 20 minutes, look away from your device, around 20 feet and hold the look for 20 seconds. This will help reduce eye strain.
- Stop smoking. If you never smoked, then great! However, if you’re a smoker, stop. Aside from all the other health issues that come along with smoking, research has shown that smoking increases your risk of developing a cataract, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. All these conditions lead to blindness.
- Wear protective eyewear. Wear your sunglasses, safety goggles, shields, and eye guards depending on the environment you’re in. However, as a rule, make sure you cover your eyes in every environment that requires your eyes to be protected.
- Watch your weight. You probably didn’t think you’d need to watch your weight for healthy eyes, however, it’s true. If you’re overweight, you increase the risk of diabetes which can lead to vision loss, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma. Check your eyewear. Just because you have a pair of sunglasses doesn’t mean that they’re protecting you. When buying sunglasses, make sure that they block out at least 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB sun rays. If not, then you’re sunglasses aren’t doing their job.
- Wash your hands before touching your eyes. When touching your eyes, you want to make sure that your hands are clean. This will avoid the risk of your developing an eye infection. If you have contacts, always make sure your hands are clean before putting the lenses in your eyes.
- Invest in a pair of sunglasses. Getting a 5$ pair of sunglasses will not have the UVB and UVA protection that’s needed to protect your eyes. Make sure that the sunglasses are labelled, showing the amount of protection they offer. You will have to invest in a pair, however, it’s worth it.
Before reading this, you probably thought that buying a pair of sunglasses was as easy as just trying them on. However, take some thought when choosing the right sunglasses for you. Make sure that you look at what you’re going to be using them for and select features that will support you.