Sunglasses come in all shapes and sizes. But no matter what your style may be, it’s the lenses that matter the most. A cheap pair can actually be damaging to your eyes, can scratch easily and give you sub-par visual acuity. A quality pair will block 100% of UV rays, offer lasting durability and give you optimal clarity. Let’s break it down here:
1. Complete UV Protection
Just because a pair of sunglasses says “blocks UV rays” doesn’t mean it has complete 100% UV protection. A cheap, drug-store pair of sunglasses usually have a thin, tinted coating on them to provide protection and help darken the lens. You can imagine, that if you’re out in the sun all day with lenses that are letting in UV rays to your eye, it can be damaging over time. Prolonged exposure can even lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and even corneal sunburn… yes, your eyes can get sunburned! High-quality lenses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Every single pair of sunglasses at Rancho Santa Fe Optometry are high quality, UV blocking.
2. Lens Material
The type of material your sunglass lenses are made of makes a huge difference in how you see through them. The most common materials are plastics, polycarbonate and glass. There is a range of difference between those categories and within each as well. Cheap plastics will have poor optics, warp and distort easily, especially around the edges where the lens meets the frame. High end polycarbonates can be made with better optics, less distortion and substantial UV protection.
3. Polarized Lenses vs. Tinted Lenses
While some people swear by polarized sunglass lenses, it truly isn’t “better” – just sometimes more appropriate depending on the activities you do outside. Here’s why: when sunlight reflects off a surface like water or glass, the rays are very intense and reflect in all directions. Polarized lenses help by blocking out the horizontal rays of light, while allowing the vertical ones. This helps if you fish, boat, surf, golf or do any activity where that sharp, intensified light can create unsafe viewing conditions and impede judgment. Polarized lenses are made to filter the extra light emitted by glare so that you can see with great precision and clarity as if the glare were not there.
Alternatively, because polarized lenses filter intense light, they may not be such a great choice for people who need this intense light to inform them of important conditions or changes in their environment. Examples of such people are pilots, or skiers skiing on slopes with ice patches. Our optical technicians can help you decide what is right for you in your daily life.
4. Frame Quality
Lastly, consider the quality of the material next time you’re buying a pair of sunglasses. Cheap frames have lenses that are glued into them and cannot be replaced if needed or have a prescription lens put in them. Most often, they also can’t be adjusted to fit your face properly and if you try, they can break. High quality frames can last years. They should be able to be adjusted to fit and hold their shape. Lenses should be able to be replaced if needed, especially if you’d like to put your proscription in them. Most people find a progressive lens helpful so they can do all sorts of activities like driving, reading and playing sports.