Throughout the year we are inundated online and in magazines with images of our favourite celebs on holiday. Whether they are on a yacht in St Tropez or relaxing on the beach in Barbados, the one thing they are never seen without is their sunglasses - and we humble beings love to copy them. However, selecting the right pair of sunglasses is about more than just the bling on the frames!
The World Health Organisation advises that there is a link between UV radiation and damage to our eyes. So just like we use suncream to protect our skin, we should use sunglasses to protect our eyes. Did you know that even on an overcast day UV radiation can still be high? Therefore, we should be thinking about protecting our eyes whenever we are outdoors, even if you don’t normally need prescription glasses.
Photochromics are a favourite with many of our customers
When worn indoors or at night these lenses are clear. However, when exposed to the UV rays from the sun they will react, darkening into sunglasses. The depth of tint varies depending on the amount of UV, not on how sunny it is, therefore they may still tint on an overcast day. The lenses are fully UV protective regardless of whether they’re clear or dark. This means that they are protecting your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun all the time.
These are considered the gold standard sunglass lens. These are a permanent, dark tinted lens which eliminates glare from horizontal surfaces. This means that light reflecting off roads, water or windscreens is blocked by the lens, creating clearer, more comfortable vision. They are particularly popular with people who fish, drive and sail, and I personally find them more comfortable than standard sunglasses.
If you don’t want or need to wear glasses all the time, sunglasses are the obvious choice, but do you know the benefits of the different lenses? Unlike adaptive/light reactive lenses, standard sunglasses have a fixed, permanent tint. The depth of tint can vary from dark to light and a variety of colours are available, although grey, green and brown dark tints are the most popular. It is also possible to have a graduated tint which starts darker at the top and changes to a lighter tint at the bottom, great for those who read a lot.
Not only is glare a nuisance, it impairs depth perception, distorts your view and colours, and can cause temporary blindness, so the extra cost is worth it for many. Dark tinted glasses block more light than regular sunglasses but they still don’t eliminate harsh glare like polarised lenses do.
Some sunglasses have a mirror effect on the front surface of the lens. This stops people being able to see your eyes through the lens, but they also help reduce the brightness and glare from the sun and are particularly useful around sand and snow or in higher altitudes. Plus it looks pretty awesome! These are recommended particularly for skiers etc. rather than a polarised lens, which can make it hard to distinguish snow from ice on the slopes due to the blocking of horizontal glare. We would recommend caution when choosing ski wear and to fully discuss all skiing requirements such as time of year, slopes and weather conditions etc with a professional.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that your sunglasses are UV protective. In the UK there are regulations meaning that anything sold as sunglasses must be UV protective but some companies cut costs by calling them “tinted” meaning they may not actually protect your eyes. If you bought a pair of “Rae Bens” from the man on the beach in Spain, the chances are they are not actually protecting your eyes. In fact, they could be doing more harm than if you had no sunglasses on at all! This is because the darkened lens makes your pupil bigger, letting more light into the eye. Without a UV filter, the back of the eye is even more exposed.
So next time you are checking out the sunnies in the duty-free, consider which lenses you need and not just if they’re the latest in designer chic!
Look after your eyes and you’ll see the benefit for years to come.