6 Things To Look For When Buying Sunglasses

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 07/31/2017

sunglasses-display-shelfProtecting your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays is important, especially during the summer when bright sunlight is more prevalent and often more intense.

The most common form of eye protection is sunglasses, and with July being UV Safety Awareness Month, it's the perfect time to buy a new pair.

Before you head to the optometrist, here are some things you should look for to help you find the right pair of sunglasses for you.

1. Type Of Sunglasses

The most common types of sunglasses are casual and sport. Casual sunglasses are ideal for everyday use and basic recreational activities and provide excellent protection for activities such as walking or driving to work.

Sport sunglasses, as their name implies, are ideal for activities such as running, hiking, biking and more. Their frames and lens material are more impact resistant than other types of sunglasses and have features such as high-grip nose pads that help keep your glasses in place.

Another type of sunglasses – glacier glasses – protect your eyes at high altitudes and from sunlight reflecting off the snow.

2. Type Of Lenses

There are three main types of lenses to consider when purchasing sunglasses: polarized, photochromic and interchangeable.


Polarization significantly reduces glare. It's ideal if you're particularly sensitive to light or if you enjoy water sports.

Polarized lenses may react to windshield tints, which create blind spots and reduce the visibility of LCD readouts. For this reason, you may want to consider mirrored lenses for driving.

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?


Photochromic lenses adjust to changing conditions; they get darker on bright days and lighter when things become darker. This ensures you always get the best visibility, regardless of the time of day. They do take longer to work in cold conditions, however.


Some sunglasses come with removable lenses of different colors that allow you to tailor your eye protection to various activities and conditions.

Lenses are typically made of the following materials: glass, polyurethane, polycarbonate and acrylic.

woman-holding-sunglasses-outdoors3. Amount Of Visible Light Transmission

The amount of light that reaches your eyes through your lenses is visible light transmission. The lower the VLT percentage, the better the lenses are for bright, sunny conditions.

A VLT percentage of 0-19 percent is best for brighter conditions, while a percentage of 80-90 percent is best for dim and night conditions.

4. Lens Color and Tint

The lens color/tint also affects how much light reaches your eyes. In general, darker colors are ideal for everyday use and outdoor activities. Lighter colors work best in moderate to low-level conditions.

The tint does not affect exposure to UV rays. Rather, it impacts how well you can see through the lenses.

5. Frame Materials

Choosing the right frame material is important because it contributes to safety and comfort.

Metal is easy to adjust to your face but more expensive and less durable than other materials. Nylon frames are durable and often used for high impact sports, while acetate lenses come in a variety of colors and are often considered more stylish.

6. How They Fit

Your frames should fit snugly but not pinch or rub on your nose and ears, while their weight should be evenly distributed your ears and nose.

The best way to judge how sunglasses will fit on you is to try them on and wear them for several minutes. If you have dark red spots around your nose after removing them, they are likely too tight.

Sunglasses are your best form of protection against UV Rays. Consider all the factors above to find the pair that is right for you.

How dangerous is UV light? Download our FREE infographic to find out!

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