The sun shines year-round, and if you haven’t updated your sunglasses in a while there are a few things to know before you begin the search.
1.) Start by asking yourself the question: “What are my new sunglasses for?”
Do you need them just for driving your car, or for driving your golf ball down the fairway? Do you need sunglasses for running and cycling, or for reading by the pool? A sports frame will be made to fit and perform differently than a casual or dress frame. Just like shoes you need different sunglasses for different activities.
2.) How to pick the right shape
In general, if your face is a square shape you want to go with shapes that are more rounded to soften the square lines of your face. If you have more of a rounded face shape you generally want angular or square frame shapes to offset the roundness, but don’t get too caught up in your face shape. What’s most important is how you feel when you try them on. You want a look that makes you feel good, happy, and confident.
3.) Choosing Lens Colors
If you are picking out sunglasses simply for the style, then this mostly comes down to personal preference and the kind of look you want, but there are also performance, and eye health considerations. Let’s take them one at a time.
a) Sunglasses are available in a variety of lens colors and mirror coatings to enhance the frame color and the overall look of the glasses. It’s all about personality here, and what you want to your style to be.
b) Lens performance is important to consider when thinking about what you will be using your sunglasses for. Some tints enhance colors while others keep them neutral or even distort them. Here you want to think about your lifestyle. Lenses with brown shades like polarized bronze or amber are great for driving. Green lens tints that heighten contrast while preserving color balance are more appropriate on the golf course or tennis court so you can more easily see the ball and the contours of the green. Red colored lenses are best for running and cycling. For those of you interested in sports sunglasses, I take a deeper dive on the reasons for choosing different lens colors and how to choose the proper frame for your sport in my other video called Choosing the Right Sunglasses For Your Sport. The main takeaway here is that different colors are good for different activities, so move beyond what you think looks good, and understand what lens tint will help you see best for the activity.
c) Now let’s talk eye health. Your sunglasses must have adequate UV protection, and the first thing to understand here is that UV protection has nothing to do with lens darkness or color. This is because UV is not part of the visible light spectrum, which means that a light yellow or even clear lenses can be made to block just as much UV as a dark grey lens. Wearing sunglasses without UV protection is actually more damaging to your eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all. This is because your pupils dilate behind dark lenses letting in more of those harmful UV rays. So, make sure your sunglasses have 100% UV protection. UV can also cause photo-damage to the skin leading to accelerated aging and increased risk of skin cancers to the sensitive skin around the eyes. So what kinds of frames will protect your eyes best from this harmful light? Look for frames that are large and that wrap around close to the face to keep those stray light rays from getting through. In addition to UV light, there is another form of harmful light known as High Energy Visible light, or HEV light. You may have heard it referred to as blue light. This kind of light penetrates more deeply into the back of eye to the retina, and according to some studies can cause retinal damage leading to macular degeneration. When it comes to blocking this harmful blue light, lens color does matter. Bronze and copper tinted lenses will block more harmful HEV blue light than other colors.
4.) Choosing the frame style
What is your style? Do you feel the best in a classic design such as an aviator or wayfarer, or are you a trendsetter? As long as you have a general understanding of your own style, your local optician will guide you to the frames that will look best on you. They fit people in glasses of all types every day, and they can explain the various benefits of different types of lenses and frame designs. Perhaps the most important thing is that they know how to fit the frame properly to your head. Which brings me to my last point.
5.) Get the proper fit
No matter where you get your glasses, take them to an optician you can trust to have them properly fitted. Your optician can also test the lenses to make sure they are properly blocking 100% of harmful UV light.