Five Things You Must Know About Sunglasses

How do they look? They look cool! But whether or not they make you look like Rob Lowe or Jackie O., there are several key things you have to know to make an intelligent purchase of sunglasses.

1. Cheap sunglasses can harm your eyes.ย Your eyes need 100 percent protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and inexpensive sunglasses may not provide that. All name-brand shades do offer the UV protection you need, but those $5 knockoffs sold at the gas station or beachside boardwalk almost certainly do not. In between are inexpensive round sunglasses (under $20) sold at discount stores. If their hang tag says they offer 100 percent UV protection, they do. But those cheap lenses will not have the optical quality of better sunglasses. They’ll cause eyestrain and headaches.

2. What you see isn’t what you get. The color you see when you look at a pair of sunglasses isn’t necessarily the same as what you see through the glasses. And the tint you see from the inside, the base tint, is what counts. Gray and green are relaxing and color-neutral; copper and brown are high-contrast, while still permitting good color recognition.

3. Polarized sunglasses aren’t for everyone. The glare-cutting effect of polarized sunglasses is great if you’re frequently around water. They’re indispensable to sailors and fishermen. But in winter, motorists or motorcyclists wearing polarized shades might miss the telltale glint of a patch of ice. Polarized sunglasses also reveal stress lines in car windows, which some drivers find annoying.

4. You can’t judge sunglasses inside a store. Whether you buy sunglasses in a store or online, you only can judge them only when you step outside. How do colors (including white) appear? Is the view sharp? Do straight lines appear a bit wavy? Is sunlight leaking from the sides?

5. Glass lenses are the sharpest. Though high-tech plastics have made great strides, glass lenses are still the best for visual acuity. Glass is ideal for driving and for street wear. But if you participate in sports such as mountain biking where impact is a possibility, seek out lenses made from polycarbonate or CR-39. Plastics are nearly shatterproof and are much lighter than glass.

Robert Earle Howells is a veteran journalist who established [] to become the Web’s most thorough and accurate resource for information about sunglasses. He brings an unbiased eye and an entertaining voice to the endeavor.


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