There's such a huge selection of sunglasses styles, prices and features that sometimes it's hard to decide which pair is the best. Finding a pair of sunglasses you love is easier if you start thinking about your possible choices now, before you go shopping.
What should you look for in a pair of sunglasses? Three big things: good eye protection, comfort and protection from ultraviolet radiation, a component of sunlight that contributes to eye disease. The FDA, the government agency that oversees sunglass manufacture and sales in the U.S., recommends you look for sunglasses with lenses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation. The label should read either 400 or 100% UV protection.
Sunglass Lens Materials
Sunglasses lens materials differ quite a bit. Some are heavier than others and some types are more durable. Materials most commonly used for sunglass lenses:
- polycarbonate, a durable lightweight plastic
- CR-39, a plastic used mostly in prescription-grade lenses
Sunglass Lens Tints
Colors are applied to sunglass lenses to help absorb light as it passes through them. The color yo choose is a matter of personal taste, but there are a few important color-related benefits to consider.
- gray lens tints reduce brightness, but do not distort color
- brown and amber tints reduce glare, including the glare created by the blue frequency in sunlight, which can make things appear hazy. Brown and amber tints distort colors more than gray tints do.
- yellow lens tints reduce the haze from blue light better than browns, so they really sharpen up the view, but they cause more color distortion.
- green tinted lenses reduce glare and help filter out some of the blue light. They provide good contrast between objects.
- rose colored lenses might be a good choice if you participate in water sports or other outdoor activities, because they provide good contrast for objects viewed against blue or green backgrounds.
Sunglasses with Polarized Lenses
Pollarizing films applied to lenses help reduce the glare created when light bounces off of some objects, such as water, highways and other similar surfaces
Watch for Sunglasses with Lens Scratch Resistance
A thin coating can be applied to lenses to make them more resistant to scratches. Plastic lenses scratch more easily than glass lenses.
Sunglasses with Mirrored Lenses
You've seen sunglasses with a mirror finish on the outside of the lenses. They're popular, but mirrored scratch easily because the mirror finish is applied last.
Sunglasses with Photochromatic Lenses
Photochromatic lenses become darker when exposed to UV radiation. The shift happens quickly as your surroundings change from bright to dim.
Buying Sunglasses with Anti-Reflective Coatings
Anti-reflective coatings reduce the reflection caused by light that hits the back side of lenses, keeping it from bouncing into your eyes.
Sunglass Frame Components
Sunglass frames are made from plastic, base metals, titanium, aluminum and many other materials. Try on lots of frame types to compare their weight and to find out which ones feel the best.