Vision Quest: How to Buy Good Sunglasses

How to Buy Good Sunglasses
Dr. Geoffrey Harris, MD

Good nutrition is key to good eyesight, and keeping a diet rich in SuperFoods makes that task easy. But one of the things nutrition websites and magazines rarely talk about is the outward layer of protection: sunglasses.

How to Buy Good Sunglasses

These aren’t┬átips for finding a style that flatters your face; rather, this is about what you need to look for when purchasing┬áspecs that protect your peepers.

  • Protect your eyes from high energy ultraviolet (UV) light and intense blue light.
    Be sure to choose sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection that block 100% of UV light. Some sunglasses manufacturers will indicate that their glasses protect to 400 nanometers (nm), which is the end of the ultraviolet light spectrum and sufficient to block UV light.
  • Check the label.
    Make sure the glasses block 100% of UV light. If the glasses don’t say they block 100% of UV light, don’t buy them.
  • Sunglasses should fit comfortably and sit close to your face.
    You want them to┬áblock as much harmful light as possible. Wrap-around sunglasses┬áthat cover peripheral vision are ideal, but it’s often difficult for people to find these versions in a style they┬álike. Wearing sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat when out during the day or while driving when it is bright outside can help.

Children need sunglasses, too. Damage to the eye from UV light starts in childhood, so start a healthy habit of having kids wear sunglasses when out in the sun or in the car. Here are some more smart thoughts when buying them:

  • Try the sunglasses on to ensure that there is no visual distortion from the lens and that the glasses are comfortable.
  • Choose impact-resistant lenses to protect against eye injuries.

Polarized Sunglasses

I like polarized sunglasses that also cut down on the glare from the light reflected from glass, water, snow, asphalt, and buildings. However, glasses with polarized lenses do NOT block UV rays.

Polarized sunglasses should still indicate that they block 100% of ultraviolet light. Since I wear eyeglasses for astigmatism, I have a pair of glasses that fit over my regular glasses that I keep in my car. There are many options for sunglasses, and your eye doctor can help you choose if you are having difficulty.


There is controversy surrounding the use of blue-blocking lens to diminish the damage caused by high-energy blue light on the eye. While it is recognized that blue light can damage the retina, blocking too much blue light can cause color distortion, headaches, and eye strain. Blue-blocking lenses are typically yellow or amber, and consequently they change the appearance of colors, especially traffic signals. Some people with early retinal damage will benefit from blue-blocking lens. Ask your eye doctor if you are someone who should have this type of lens.

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