If your idea of sunglasses shopping is trying on a variety of pairs and glancing at the mirror, these instructions will take it to another whole level. There’s more to sunglasses shopping than looking good! Have you ever thought about UV protection? Durability? Visibility?
Protect your eyes! Excessive exposure to UV radiation can cause a variety of problems for your eyes such as cataracts, burns, and cancer. If you want your sunglasses to protect you from these risks, look for pairs that block at least 99% of UVB rays and at least 95% of UVA rays. If they’re labeled as “cosmetic” or don’t provide any information on UV protection, don’t buy them.
Choose the color wisely. The color of the lenses doesn’t just affect your fashion statement; it affects how well you detect contrast and differentiate colors. Some colors enhance contrast, which can be useful; however, this is often at the expense of color distinction, which can cause problems (when you’re driving, for example, and need to be able to clearly differentiate the colors of a traffic light). Some sunglasses even come with interchangeable lenses so you can change the color easily, depending on what you’re doing.
- Gray lenses reduce light intensity without affecting contrast or distorting colors.
- Brown lenses partially enhance contrast by blocking some blue light. Good for snow sports. Also generally good for hunting in bright light, against open backgrounds.
- Amber/yellow lenses significantly enhance contrast because they block most or all blue light, and that makes them popular among hunters who benefit from that contrast when looking at targets against the sky. They’re bad, however, for any activity that requires color recognition (like driving!).
- Red/orange lenses are good for snow sports but only on overcast days. If you’re a hunter, orange lenses are good for clay targets against open backgrounds.
- Violet lenses are good for hunters who need to see clay targets on a green background.
- Copper sunglasses will mute the sky and grass against a golf ball.
- Blue and green sunglasses enhance contrast with a yellow tennis ball.
Consider the lens material.Scratched up sunglasses are useless sunglasses. Lenses made from NXT polyurethane are impact-resistant, flexible, lightweight, and have great optical clarity, but they’re expensive.
- Glass is heavier, expensive, and will “spider” if broken.
- Polycarbonate is not as scratch-resistant and provides less optical clarity than NXT polyurethane or glass, but it’s more affordable.
- Acrylic is also affordable, but it’s the least durable and optically clear.
Decide on a style.Sunglasses come in all shapes and sizes! Here are a few popular styles:
- Mirrorshades – Mirrored coating on surface. Used a lot by police officers in the US. They usually come in an aviator or wraparound shape.
- Aviators – Teardrop-shaped lens and thin metal frames. Often used by pilots, military personnel, and law enforcement personnel in the US. Good with any face shape, but best with an oval shape.
- Wayfarers/Spicolis – Popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
- Teashades – Popularized by John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne. They’re not very effective at keeping light out of your eyes, though.
- Wraparounds – Associated with athletics and extreme sports.
- Oversized – Associated with models and movie stars. Glamorous, darling.
Make sure the sunglasses fit properly. Try them on and make sure they don’t pinch around your head. The weight should be evenly distributed between your ears and nose, and your eyelashes shouldn’t touch the frame or lenses.