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5 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Sunglasses

Greg Macik OD, ACMC-Willmar Skylark Center, Optometry

We all know the main goal of a good pair of sunglasses is to see better when the sun is out. And if they make you look good at the same time, all the better!

However, what you might not know is how important the right pair of sunglasses are in protecting your eyes from potential eye damage.

1. Look for UV Ray Protection

You might be aware that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is bad for your skin, but did you know that exposure to UV rays can harm the eyes? There are several eye diseases that can cause short- and long-term damage to your eyes and vision.

The very first thing you want to do when buying new sunglasses is read the tag or sticker. You want a pair that blocks 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Your first goal should be to protect the eyes.

2. Dark Lenses Don't Protect Better

When you put on sunglasses with dark lenses it reduces the available light to the eye, which results in dilation of the pupil. The pupil opens more to let in more light.

If you have a clear lens with no tint and 100% UV protection, it's better for your eyes than having dark lenses without UV protection. In fact, if your dark lenses aren't UV protected, you could be allowing more harmful UV light into your eye.

3. Polarized Cuts Glare

Don't confuse polarized lenses with UV protective lenses. The role of polarized lenses are to cut reflected glare from surfaces — such as when you're on the water, at the beach or out in the snow. This can be very helpful when driving, boating or skiing.

A polarized lens does not offer sun protection, but it can make your activities safer and more enjoyable by seeing things more clearly. Polarization can make some things such as your phone screen more difficult to see.

4. Proper Fit is Important

If your sunglasses don't fit well you risk having those dangerous UV rays sneak in.

"Sunglasses that wrap around your temples can help prevent rays from entering on the side," says optometrist Dr. Greg Macik. "They can also help keep out sand and other things like allergens that we don't want getting into our eyes either. It's important to find sunglasses that fit your face well. They shouldn't pinch and the eyelashes shouldn't touch the frames or lenses. If you're playing sports you don't want something loose that can fall off your face."

5. Children and Adults Need Sunglasses

Don't forget about the children when picking out sunglasses. Many times kids spend more time outside than adults, it's important they protect their eyes too.

If you're putting on sunscreen, you should remember to put on sunglasses as well. It's important to always have proper eye and skin protection for adults and kids.