Knowing how to buy sunglasses can mean the difference between protecting transparent sunglasses and ocean beachfront home image for guide to buying sunglassesyour eyes in all seasons, and exposing them to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. With the dizzying array of fashion choices, though, it’s easy to forget that buying sunglasses should be about eye protection.

Oregon Eye Specialists is here to help. This month, we’re talking about sunglasses and how they protect your eyes. First, we give you a guide to buying sunglasses. In our next post, we’ll give you the back story on why sunglasses – whether they’re prescription, polarized or the latest designer sunglasses – are important for keeping your eyes healthy.

How to buy sunglasses

  • Look for sunglasses that block UV rays. Every pair you own should block 100% of UV radiation. There are two types, UVA and UVB rays, and UVB is more dangerous. Look for “blocks 100 of UV rays,” “UV absorption up to 400 nm or 100% UV absorption on the label. If you don’t see it, keep shopping.
  • Check the quality of non-prescription sunglasses. Here’s how: hold them out at a comfortable distance, cover one eye, and look at something rectangular like a tile or a picture on the wall. Move the glasses slowly side to side, then up and down. If the lines on the rectangular object stay straight, the sunglasses are fine. If the lines wiggle, try a different pair.
  • Pick a shatter-proof lens. Most non-prescription sunglasses have plastic lenses, which are less likely than glass to break on impact. Lenses made of polycarbonate are even tougher, but they scratch very easily. Oregon Eye Specialists has scratch-resistant coatings available – we recommend them to protect your investment.
  • Consider polarized lenses if you spend a lot of time driving, enjoying the outdoors and around water. These lenses reduce glare off smooth surfaces like water and pavement.
  • Consider color. Darker lenses are best for very bright conditions, while medium tints are fine for everyday wear. Remember, the color and darkness of the lenses has nothing to do with UV protection, so always check labels.
  • Wrap your shades. Around your head, that is. Even if you buy 100% UV-blocking sunglasses, enough damaging rays can sneak around the sides to reduce their benefits. A wrap style is better at protecting your eyes from every angle.
  • Wear sunglasses with contact lenses, even if the lenses offer UV protection. Protection from contact lenses is not reliable, and doesn’t protect the delicate skin around your eyes, which is some of the first to wrinkle. Contact lenses also can’t protect against sun damage to the eyelids.

display of 3 women's sunglasses for guide to buying the right sunglassesInterested in prescription sunglasses, designer sunglasses or polarized sunglasses? We carry frames by Maui Jim, Oakley, Ray-Ban, and more. We also have our own lens manufacturing lab. A Sight Shop optician can help you find just the right sunglasses for your activities this summer and beyond.

Still have questions? Consider asking one of Oregon Eye Specialists’ experienced opticians. Our Sight Shops are conveniently located around the Portland metro area.

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