Given the many benefits they bring, sunglasses are no longer just a fashion accessory. They are essential for the protection of your eyes against the damaging rays of the sun. You can use them to improve your vision while making a unique fashion statement.

Like sunscreen, sunglasses should be worn whenever you’re outdoors, throughout the year.

Here’s what to look for when going shopping for sunshades for the eyes.

Choose the right size and fit

To prevent light from hitting your eyes from overhead, choose a pair that fits close to your face around the brow area, but not so close that your eyelashes are touching the lenses. Sunglasses with large lenses and wide temples provide the next-best protection.

Look for UV protection

Choose glasses that block around 90% of the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This is the most important feature of your sunglasses, and you should always choose sunglasses that provide this protection.

Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts (cloudiness of the lens of the eye), macular degeneration that causes vision loss, pinguecula (yellow spot or bump on the whites of the eye), pterygia (tissue growth on the cornea) and photokeratitis (sunburned eye) that can cause temporary vision loss.

Almost all sunglasses block a portion of HEV (high energy visible) rays, but some tints block more blue light than others. Blue-blocking sunglass lenses usually are bronze, copper or reddish-brown in colour.

Go for impact-resistant lenses

No lens is truly unbreakable, but plastic lenses are less likely to shatter when hit by a ball or a stone. Polycarbonate plastics, used in many sports sunglasses, are especially strong, but scratch easily. If you buy polycarbonate lenses, choose the ones with a scratch-resistant coating.

Get quality lenses

Most sunglasses are coated with UV blockers to block the ultraviolet rays, but the cheaper ones may cheat on this. While the price isn’t a gauge of UV protection, inexpensive sunglasses are likely to contain lenses that are stamped out of a mould rather than ground and polished, which affects optical quality.

Swimming goggles must fit and protect

These should fit snugly to protect your eyes from water-borne bacteria or chemicals. Make sure the goggles also block UV rays as sunlight reflected off the water and can increase exposure to harmful UV rays.

 

Dr Ritika Sachdev is an ophthalmic surgeon at the Centre for Sight, New Delhi