Given the harm that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can do to our eyes, it is essential that adults and children wear proper eye protection while outside – regardless of the season or time of day. Sunglasses continue to be the most effective tool for preventing immediate and long-term UV damage. The right pair of glasses will block UVA and UVB light – as indicated by a sticker or label on the glasses verifying UV protection.
Consumers today have several options when it comes to eyewear. Anti-reflective coatings and UV treatments can be added to both sides of prescription lenses for daily protection, and a wide range of prescription sunglasses are available.
Non-prescription sunglasses come in a variety of lens and frame options. Different lenses can enhance visual contrast during particular activities, such as driving, golfing, skiing and boating.
- Anti-Reflective: Dramatically reduce distracting reflections, improving contrast and comfort in difficult lighting situations
- Impact Resistant: Lenses sold in the U.S. must be capable of withstanding impact testing
- Mirror Coated: Reflect light across a wide spectrum, including infrared or heat rays
- Photochromic: Automatically darken and lighten to provide the proper level of protection and comfort in varied lighting conditions
- Polarized: Filter out reflected glare from shiny surfaces (water, pavement, dashboards) and improve contrast and visibility while reducing squinting and eye strain
- Wraparound: Shaped to keep light from entering the eye at various angles
- Scratch Resistant: Significantly durable and minimize abrasions
Other eyewear options can help maximize UV protection. Most swim goggles, for instance, have UV coatings that protect against exposure from water-reflected sunlight. Certain brands of contacts may also offer UV protection, though contacts alone are not sufficient. Contacts should be worn in combination with sunglasses to shield all parts of the eye from UV rays.
The most important considerations when making eyewear purchases are UV protection, fit and comfort. Sunglasses that aren’t comfortable or don’t look good won’t be worn. And without wearing them, shades aren’t effective. The best advice is to spend time researching your options and talk with an eye-care provider to learn more about the lenses and tints that will be most conducive to your lifestyle.