Tips for Buying Sunglasses

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In the market for a new pair of sunglasses? If you've ever shopped for a pair of shades, you know the experience is anything but simple. With thousands of styles and colors to choose from, how do you know where to start? You'd like a hip style that makes you look fashionable, but you are also concerned about finding proper protection for your eyes. Following are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping for sunglasses.

  • Look for sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of all UV light. Look for a label showing how much UV radiation the lenses reflect. Read labels carefully. If you are concerned, ask your optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist for his or her opinion.
  • Select a tint color based on your particular needs. Different tints filter different wavelengths of light. Gray is usually recommended for driving for proper traffic light recognition. Also, check that the tint appears uniform across each lens. Ask your doctor about specific tints. Some tints such as a brown polarized lens or melanin tint may offer some protection for conditions such as macular degeneration.
  • Try the sunglasses on in front of a mirror. If you can see your eyes behind the sunglasses, they may not be dark enough for you.
  • Be aware that dark-colored sunglasses don’t necessarily provide better protection from the sun's harmful rays.
  • If you are considering purchasing a gradient tint, make sure the tint lightens gradually, from the top to the bottom. A gradient tint was first designed to allow people to read through a tinted lens because the lens becomes clearer toward the bottom of the lens. However, a gradient tint is also a fashion statement.
  • Check closely for imperfections or distortions in both lenses: holding the glasses at arm’s length, slowly move them across a straight line in the distance. A distortion in the lens may cause the straight line to appear curved or appear to move. Keep in mind that some extremely curvy or wrap-around styles of sunglasses may cause items to appear curved because of the way the lenses must be cut to fit into the wrapped frame.
  • Don’t let price determine your purchase. Higher-priced sunglasses often reflect fashion, not UV protection. However, higher priced sunglass frames are usually made of higher quality plastics and metals. 

Source: Pamphlet: Shopping Guide for Sunglasses, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63131 American Optometric Association, 200.