5 Questions to ask before buying sunglasses

The outdoor grills aren’t the only things heating up as barbecue season goes into full swing. A brighter, hotter sun has come with summer, signaling all to bring out their sun hats and sunglasses. But are your sunglasses doing the job of protecting your eyes from the glare of the sun? When it comes to sunglasses, these are the questions you need to consider before buying a pair and putting it on:

  1. Do your sunglasses block ultraviolet radiation  The sunlight that reaches the earth comes in two types of rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet (B), and both are harmful to your eyes. To keep your eyes safe from UVA and UVB radiation, Dr. Andrea Thau, president of the American Optometric Association, has recommended selecting sunglasses with a label that offers 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB radiation. Alternatively, you could also select a pair with a label stating 100 percent protection against UV 400, as UVA waves range from 320 to 400 nanometers long. For your added safety, UV protection is embedded and therefore never fades.
  2. How much brightness do your sunglasses block  Darker-tinted sunglasses don’t always mean better sunglasses. The darker the lens, the more dilated the pupils will become, and the easier it will be for blue light to enter the eye. “The longer the retinas are exposed to unfiltered blue light, the greater the risk of macular degeneration,” environmental medicine specialist Dr. James H. Diaz told CNN.com. “Orange and yellow lenses provide the best protection from blue light, and blue and purple lenses provide the least protection.”
  3. Do your sunglasses protect the skin around your eyes – According to Thau, the skin on the eyelid is the thinnest on the body, and is the most susceptible to skin cancers. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are likely to develop from repeated sun exposure, so wearing sunglasses that protect the eyelids and the surrounding skin is highly recommended. Other eye conditions that can result from repeated sun exposure include photokeratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, as well as conjunctiva thickening and/or yellowing. For the best protection, choose wraparound sunglasses. The wrap around your temples will prevent sun rays from entering the sides and harming your eyes.
  4. Are your lenses polarized – Although not necessary, polarized sunglasses are a nice add-on to have. When sunlight bounces off smooth surfaces like pavement or water, the glare reflects and can subsequently harm your eyes. Polarized lenses cut the amount of reflected glare, making them beneficial especially if you’re driving or boating. (Related: Five Solutions For Protecting Your Body From The Sun)
  5. Are your sunglasses from a reputable retailer  Dr. Jeff Pettey, spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, has suggested purchasing your sunglasses from a trustworthy retailer to be on the safe side. There’s no guarantee, because you can’t say for certain where your glasses are coming from,” Pettey said. If the retailer has a UV light meter then use it to test the UV protection claim of your sunglasses.

Before committing to a pair of sunglasses, remember these questions. They could spell the difference between good and bad eyesight in the future.

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