Why Sunglasses are an important factor in protecting your vision

FAQs about Sunglasses

Sunglasses are often regarded as fashion accessories but they are more for protection from wind, dust and most importantly from the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays. To help make the purpose of sunglasses clearer, below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about sunglasses and the answers to them:

Are sunglasses still needed if the sun doesn’t hurt your eyes?

Yes, to avoid eye problems like photokeratitis, pingueculae, pterygia and permanent retinal damage caused by the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays.

UV rays come directly from sunlight and are found just after the violet portion of the visible spectrum. Its 3 types are:

  • UVB unable to pass through glass but is the most harmful type hence the requirement to use sunscreen and sunglasses. This is why you cannot get a sun tan while lying indoors inside a window.
  • UVA the ill effects of this on the eyes are still debated by experts but this has a longer wavelength that goes through glass smoothly.
  • UVC are rays blocked by the ozone layer hence unable to reach the Earth’s surface.

When are UV rays harmful to the eyes?

The sun’s rays are at their peak from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.however the risk is not only during this time but also when the day is really sunny. UV light can go through clouds hence you still need sunglasses on overcast days. You also need them where there’s snow, sand, water or when driving because glare and reflections could spell eye problems.

Other things that could harm your eyes are photosensitizing drugs, sunlamps and tanning beds. You are also at risk when you live in high places or in the tropics near the equator.

Do medical conditions potentially increase UV rays damage?

Precaution should be taken by sufferers of certain conditions like cataracts (even if you had previous cataract surgery), macular degeneration and retinal dystrophies.

How can eye damage from UV rays be avoided?

Even if you use contact lenses with UV protection, sunglasses are still your best defence because they cover more areas of the eyes especially those with 100% UVA and UVB light protection. Maximum coverage may be obtained from wraparound sunglasses which cover even the sides. You can also opt for UV 400 shades that can prevent all UVA and UVB light wavelengths of up to 400 nanometers. Don’t forget that a hat with a peak can also be of great benefit in reducing sun damage to the eyes.

What types of protective lenses are on offer?

Lenses vary as well as the tints and while some can help your vision, only a professional can tell which are best for you depending on to your requirement, job or past-time.

Blue blockers are typically made of amber lenses that block harmful blue light to reduce the risk of eye damage like macular degeneration and are recommended for hunters, boaters, skiers and pilots.

Polarized and Anti-reflective-coating Lenses can significantly reduce reflected glare, ideal for water and snow sport athletes.

Mirror-coating (flash coating) Lenses – typically available in all colors but the more popular ones are silver, gold and copper that don’t necessarily affect your color acuity. However,the depth of the tint of mirrored sunglasses under the coating may have an effect.

These types of lenses are often seen used by skiers during a bright sunny day because they significantly reduce the amount of light that penetrate the eyes.

Gradient Lenses are a driver’s best bet being tinted darker at the top to protect the eyes from sunlight coming from above the head. Lighter tint covers the lower part in order to see the dashboard clearly.

Double Gradient Lenses are great against overhead sunlight and light that bounces back from reflective surfaces because of the darker tints applied on top and bottom. The middle part tint is lighter so you can see straight ahead clearly.

Photochromic Lenses are the self-adjusting kind depending on the amount of UV light in the area. ‘Transitions’ are a well known and favoured brand.

Are there infrared rays-blocking sunglasses?

A majority of experts agree that the sun’s infrared rays are not harmful to the eyes. These are seen after the red portion of the visible light field and are known to produce heat.

What makes the best lens color?

How sunglasses protect your eyes is not lens colour dependent but you might want to choose colours that don’t alter your colour acuity. Athletes like skiers may opt for tints that can improve contrast. Shooters may prefer lens tints that are image enhancers due to increased contrast, can improve fog vision and are suited for low lights. Currently blue tints are popular because they look ‘cool’ but they are of no advantage in protecting your eyes as they don’t block blue light.

Are lenses that can resist impact important?

For safety reasons, it is important that lenses are impact-resistant and especially if used for sports or at work. Polycarbonate lenses provide the best resistance against impact.

Are real dark lenses enough or are UV protective sunglasses still needed?

Contrary to popular belief, darker lenses don’t mean better eye protection because that does not actually block UV rays. Even lighter tint sunglasses can work well against UV rays provided they are 100% UV ray blockers.

Does better quality come with more expensive sunglasses?

Typically, you pay for quality but not always with sunglasses because a quality pair can be availed of for 20 or less. What you need to look for are un-deformed lenses that can give the best UV light protection for your eyes.Ensure this by having the lenses checked by an eye care professional who can measure the UV amount that passes the lenses.

Must children also wear sunglasses?

Children spend more time in the sun playing and doing other outdoor activities putting them at higher risk. The damage of UV light can increase over time therefore it is best to use protection as early as possible. So the next time you allow your children outside on a sunny day, protect their eyes by having them wear sunglasses. It is a good habit for them to develop.

How can those wearing glasses protect their eyes?

An eye care professional can help provide prescription glasses that have photochromic lenses which can go from clear to dark.A cheaper option is when you buy your eyeglasses, buy a pair of matching clip-ons, too. If you don’t want to risk scratching your prescription lenses, you can choose to use sun lenses that can be attached by tiny magnets to the eyeglass frames.

Are specific sports sunglasses necessary?

Due to the risks involved, sunglasses for specific sports type are made of exceptional, shatter-proof materials. This is to ensure that the wearer is given much better protection. Additionally, certain sports require specific sunglasses lens colours so that players are provided with better vision. Golfers, for instance, can see better against a very green golf course background using brown tinted lenses.