Sunglasses have been a consistent fixture of optical fashion trends dating back to the early 1900’s, but are you aware of their importance when it comes to ocular health? Since the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a UV index, more people have become aware of the risks to your skin associated with UV radiation. A lot of people don’t realize that UV radiation can also harm your eyes, and it’s not so easy to apply sunscreen there!
That’s where sunglasses come in. Wearing a good pair of sunglasses that block over 99% of UV is your best defence, and when choosing sunglasses you have to consider their UV rating, polarization, lens colour and style.
What is UV?
Ultraviolet radiation is a form of energy that is produced my many sources, such as your PC or your house lights, the largest and strongest source being the sun of course. UV is typically separated into two wavelengths; UVA the longer wavelength that results in signs associated with aging (i.e. wrinkles), UVB is the shorter wavelength that results in signs associated with damage (i.e. a sunburn). Both UVA and UVB radiation can cause detrimental effects to the eye and the surrounding areas. This is why it’s so important to ensure that the sun lenses you choose are “UVA/UVB protected”, or have a UV rating of 400. Just because a lens is dark does not mean it’s UV protected! A dark lens allows the pupil to open and let more light in, thus increasing the amount of UV exposure.
What is Polarization?
Just as a dark lens does not ensure UV protection, UV protection does not ensure a polarized lens. When there is a concentrated bundle of light that is observed bouncing off of a horizontal surface, such as the surface of a body of water or a car windshield, the effect is called glare, and it can be blinding to the observer. Polarization is an effect added to a sun lens that specifically blocks horizontal light from travelling through the lens and reaching the eyes, thus reducing glare. Cheaper polarized lenses will add this layer through a chemical laminate adhered to one side of the lens, which can be scratched or rubbed off. Premium polarized sunglasses will insert the layer within the lens itself where it cannot be damaged from normal wear and tear.
Which Colour Lens is Best For Sunglasses?
UV protection and polarization of a pair of sunglasses might have nothing to do with lens colour. As long as your optician has certified that the lens blocks more than 99% of the sun’s UV light then the choice of colour is up to you! However, some colours may be more beneficial during certain weather patterns or for certain activities.
Sunglass Lens Colour Guide
⦁ Grey /Green: Good general-purpose lenses, have better true colour perception compared to others, and work well for a number of outdoor activities
⦁ Brown: A very warm colour, good for sunny and cloudy days with its ability to increase contrast and depth perception, and makes a good driving lens
⦁ Blue/Purple: Used more for winter, as well as for water sports and activities. Excels in snow and foggy conditions, and greatly reduces glare
⦁ Red/Pink: Thought of more as fashion tints, these lenses work well for road activities such as driving and cycling, and for all weather conditions except low light situations.
⦁ Yellow: Excels in low light and foggy conditions, it has situational use outdoors but works very well for activities such as biking and tennis
Merging Fashion and Function in Sunglasses
Just because a pair of sunglasses should be protective doesn’t mean they can’t be fashionable as well. Some of the most iconic brands hinged their marketing on being fashion forward and trendsetting. From the Wayfarers of RayBan to the sports-focused colourful lenses of Oakley, the luxury Italian designs of Persol to the crystal-clear clarity of Maui Jim, the most successful companies know to offer high quality and highly fashionable products.
Sunglasses for Children
About 50% of a person’s Lifetime Exposure to UV Radiation Occurs by Age 18: A Good reason for children to wear sunglasses with the proper UVA and UVA protection. A child may not be interested in the fashion aspect of a pair of sunglasses compared to what an adult would. However, since they spend most of their time outdoors it would be a smart idea to buy a pair for them. In addition to this, children’s eyes are more susceptible to HEV and UV radiation since their crystalline lens is typically clearer than the adult lens, allowing more harmful rays to go through. A person’s exposure to UV radiation increases in highly reflective environments like on sandy beaches or in a snowfield as well as in high-altitude areas and at the tropics.
How do I Choose a Pair of Sunglasses for My Child?
Accessorize With a Cord
When you are out shopping for kid’s sunglasses and you make your purchase, you’ll be told how to take care of them. This will include recommendation for the ideal cleaning cloth and solution, plus a case to store the sunglasses when they are not worn. If you are concerned about losing them, one option is to attach cords. These are attached to the temple of the sunglasses so that they don’t fall off.
Keep up With the Top Trends in Kids’ Sunglasses
– A style that mimics adult sunglasses. They are cool, trendy and sophisticated.
– Plastic models in vibrant colours
– Sports eyewear
– The clip-on design. These are prescription eyeglasses readily available for kids. Newer models do not have metal clips to attach to but instead have magnetic ones.
– Brand appeal – just like the popular adult sunglasses trend, kids’ sunglasses produced by big brands are a hot commodity. Major sunglasses and eyewear manufacturers have partnered with Disney and young celebs to appeal to the young generation.