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How to Pick the Right Shades

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. Sure, it may be fun to try to look like your favorite celebrity in those cool shades, but are your sunglasses protecting your eyes?

Sunglasses can be an important element in prevention of eye disease. Exposure to UV radiation can put you at risk for degenerative eye conditions such as cataracts. When you go shopping for shades, it is tempting to just consider how you look in the frames rather than examining the safety features. Chances are, you have misplaced those sunglasses from the corner drug store and you need to replace them. Before you buy that cute pair that makes you look like Nicole Richie, here are a few guidelines for choosing sunglasses that offer quality eye protection:

  • Look for glasses that block 99% or 100% UVB and UVA rays. This will be on a sticker on the lenses or on the hang tag of the sunglasses. Don’t be fooled by a dark lens. The coating that blocks UVA rays is clear, so dark lenses are not necessarily better for your eyes.
  • Choose glasses that wrap around the eye and cover a larger surface area. Wraparound glasses provide the best UV protection because they will block out more light. Large lenses cover your skin so there is less UV penetration. So think Jackie Onassis, not John Lennon.
  • Tints can alter color perception, so be cautious about choosing tinted lenses. Rose or yellow tinted lenses can make it hard to distinguish between colors in traffic lights, which can be dangerous.
  • Polarized lenses can help reduce glare. If you spend a lot of time on the water, you may benefit from polarized lenses. They reduce glare by filtering out the reflected sunlight that bounces off pavement or water. If you own a boat or like to water ski, this is a good option for you. The downside of polarized lenses is that it may be hard to read your cell phone, dashboard on your car or ATM screen.
  • Choose a lens that gives you a good fit. Light hits you from overhead as well, so choose glasses that don’t gap too much and fit closer to the face (Source: Web MD).