How to pick the best sunglasses

Sunglasses are essential for personal self care. So many people will skip wearing sunglasses for convenience, but ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can be very damaging to your eyes! Extensive UV exposure can even lead to early development of cataracts, which are a big problem in the US as they affect 50% of people by the age of 70. To protect yourself, it is best to wear sunglasses yearound whenever you’re outside (even if it is cloudy because you are still being exposed to UV rays). This is especially important when around bodies of water or snow as these are very reflective. Wearing sunglasses regularly also helps protect the delicate skin around your eyes, which reduces wrinkles and slows the signs of aging. 

Thankfully sunglasses help reduce the UV exposure for your eyes, but not all sunglasses are created equal. There are 2 really important things to remember when you are picking your sunglasses:

  • 100% UV protection: this is the #1 most important factor because this means the sunglasses will filter out damaging UV rays. This usually comes in the form of a protective coating, but your sunglasses must be labeled as having UV protection, otherwise they are not really protecting your eyes!
  • Polarized: these reduce glare and reflection, which give you clearer vision especially in bright light. This increases contrast without distorting color and also reduced eye strain (which makes your eyes tired and negatively affects your vision) and squinting (which causes wrinkles). This is based on preference as well, but there is a noticeable improvement in visibility when wearing polarized lenses.

Unfortunately these features are often confused with each other, but they are not the same. It is important to ensure that your sunglasses have both of these features to have the biggest protective effect for your vision.

Here are a few more tips that are helpful when picking out your shades:

  • Bigger is better as this provides more protection for your eyes and the skin around your eyes. The more coverage your sunglasses have on your face, the more protection they provide, so consider buying wraparounds or oversized sunglasses.
  • Color and darkness of the lenses do not matter. Choose whichever color and darkness you like, it is your preference. Many people think that darker lenses protect your eyes better, but this is a myth.
  • Cost does not matter. As long as they have UV protection (and polarization if you want to see things clearly), the cost is irrelevant.