Reasons for choosing sunglasses
What do sunglasses do?
Sunglasses protect your eyes from the direct and harmful rays of the sun. Our eyes are one of the most sensitive organs in our body, and they need all the tender loving care they can get. Photosensitivity can aggravate into a serious problem and can result in symptoms like pain in the eyes, headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and can even result in wounds forming in the eyes.
The dangerous infrared and ultraviolet rays of the sun can be very damaging as they cause burns and constant exposure to the direct rays of the sun can also cause skin cancer. With this in mind, it is easy to see how your precious eyes can be harmed even when exposed to the sun for a short period of time.
To protect our skin, we rigorously put sunscreen over our bodies, but we generally forget to protect our eyes. This is in stark contrast with the recommendation of the American Optometric Association which strongly endorse the use of ultraviolet rays blocking sunglasses every time a person is out in the sun.
The science behind sunglasses:
So how exactly do sunglasses perform their protective function? Most of us just like to wear them as they look cool. Having your eyes hidden make you appear mysterious and unpredictable, but on the practical side of things, it makes sense to see which type protect against the dangerous rays of the sun and which do not.
So, we have all heard how the direct light from the sun is bad for you. It has been linked to everything from premature aging and skin burns to skin cancer and brown spots on the skin. This is undoubtedly true, but only for a specific type of light within the sun's spectrum of light. The kind of light that poses a danger to us is the high frequency, high energy light. This includes the UV (ultraviolet radiation) and the high energy visible light (blue light). These high energy lights damage the chemical bonds between our cells beyond repair.
The seriousness of the problem leads to one important conclusion: we must wear sunglasses whenever we expose our eyes to the sun.
But why is that that some sunglasses are deemed better than others? We are not just talking about the expensive sunglasses made by luxury brands, but how experts consider some sunglasses give more protection than others. The quality of good sunglasses depends on a number of different factors, and we will look at each one in turn.
Characteristics to look out for while selecting the perfect pair of glasses:
We can assess how useful and practical a pair of sunglasses is by looking out at the following characteristics:
- Comfort and ease of wear: This sounds like a no-brainer. Apparently, you will be wearing them for a significant amount of time, so they need to be just the right fit. Snug enough to be fixed, but not too tight either. However, the issue is not the frame, but the lenses themselves. The lens must be dark enough that your eyes can withstand the harsh light of the sun. Most sunglasses have light absorbing particles embedded in the lenses or a layer of such particles over them. So, the light never really comes in contact with your eyes. A good pair of sunglasses must have plenty of such particles to maximize the extent of light absorption.
- Tint: Aside from light absorbing material, most sunglasses have colored lenses. Technically speaking, these are tinted, and that increases the protection offered by sunglasses. This is because the tint specifically counters the high energy blue light. Yes, tinting of sunglasses does distort our visuals and our perception of color, but it is a small sacrifice in return of having safety for your eyes.
- 100% UV Protection:A 100% protection factor against UV radiation is a must. This is also the area where you can distinguish the sunglasses into either being good or bad. The reason for this is that the tint added to sunglass lenses makes our pupils expand. This is normal when our eyes try to see in the dark; it is an involuntary reaction. This dilation of pupils can allow for more UV light to enter our eyes than it would normally do without the sunglasses. So, unless your sunglasses give full protection against UV light, they can actually end up doing more harm than good.
Essentially what we have learned till now is that using sunglasses is really important. You can severely damage your eyes since some of the rays in the sun's light can cause irreparable harm to our cells. But selecting a suitable pair of sunglasses is not very straightforward, and one must prioritize the protection factor offered by sunglasses as opposed to how cool they may look.
How to choose polarized sunglasses?
What are polarized sunglasses?
You must have seen sunglasses which have lenses that appear to have changing colors when you turn your face the lenses may appear blue from one side but change to green and then purple when you move your head. These are polarized lenses, and polarized sunglasses make use of such lenses.
These unique lenses are designed to reduce glare. Sunlight, when reflected from snow, water, or any similar surface, can be especially harsh. This glare from the sunlight can cause visual distortion and even temporary blindness. Polarized sunglasses significantly reduce the direct glare of the sunlight and improve the wearer's ability to see, no matter how harsh the light being reflected is. Due to its ability to cancel out glare, polarized sunglasses are especially useful for athletes, like skiers, snowboarders, race car drivers and the like.
How do polarized lenses block glare?
Polarized lenses are incredibly advanced and make use of the science behind light and the way it travels to block the higher intensity type of light. Glare occurs when the light of the sun bounces back from a flat surface. This creates a largely horizontally oriented light pattern which translates into a glare when viewed with the naked eye.
The polarized lenses have a special coating of lamination that filters the out the horizontal orientation light, only letting the vertical orientation light to pass through.
All this science sounds a bit complex, so all you need to know is that whenever you want to prevent glare, polarized sunglasses are your best option. Below are some pros and cons of polarized glasses that will help you come to a conclusion whether they are suitable for you or not:
- Provides visual comfort, especially when the light from the sun is being reflected from vast horizontal surfaces, such as snow or the sea.
- Helps with visual clarity.
- Provides a better visual contrast.
- Does not distort color. Usually, sunglasses are tinted, and that means true colors are not perceived properly. Polarized lenses prevent this from happening.
- Glare is eliminated which can be extremely harmful to the eyes.
- Removes the amount of strain the eyes would have felt otherwise.
- There is really just one disadvantage of polarized lenses, and that's what they are not for everyone. Wearers at times may feel disoriented or dizzy which means that you should really try on sunglasses that are polarized and see for yourself whether they are suitable or not.
- Polarized lenses can also distort our perception of distance and space which can be dangerous especially during driving.
But are all polarized sunglasses equally good? Is there a way to select the best one? Let us examine this in detail as we want only the best for our eyes.
Choosing the right pair of polarized sunglasses:
- How well do the sunglasses fit?
The first and foremost thing is comfort. Sunglasses must sit comfortably on a person's nose bridge and ears. A tight fit will be uncomfortable and may become unbearable over an extended period of time. Sometimes sunglasses that are too tight may even cause headaches.
On the other hand, loose-fitting glasses are equally uncomfortable. If they keep slipping, you will be occupied with adjusting them and holding onto them and just fussing with them.
For a nice snug fit always try on the sunglasses and if you are not too tolerant of the rigid plastic or metal frame then get the sunglasses that have a rubber padding over the area that sits on your nose bridge.
Another important thing to remember is getting sunglasses that have wider arms which will prevent any amount of light from entering from the sides which would otherwise be unprotected.
- Type of lenses: Glass or polycarbonate?
Polarized lenses come in two types of materials; glass and polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is essentially a type of plastic and as all plastic lenses are quite lightweight. So if you are not tolerant to the heavy weight of lenses than these are the perfect one for you. The major drawback with polycarbonate is that they can become scratched over time. So it would help if you were mindful of the fact that they may not be as long lasting as their glass counterparts.
Glass, on the other hand, provides better visuals with greater clarity and does not get scratched as easily as well. However, glass can be heavy and may become and wearing sunglasses with glass polarized lenses may become uncomfortable after a while of wearing them.
- Lens colors
Colors in case of lenses are not just an aesthetic phenomenon. Specific colors perform specific functions. Green mirror glasses with amber inside is perfect for fishing, for example. These colors improve visual clarity when you are viewing shallow waters.
Yellow lenses are better for more overcast conditions when the light is minimal. Grey lenses are good in an overall sense and can be used for multiple things, like fishing, golfing, basically any outdoor activity.
Finally mirrored blue glasses with a grey inside is suitable for preventing glare over deep water, like when you are out at the beach.
With this in mind, you should select the color of the lenses carefully depending upon whether you are fishing or near deep waters or involved in an outdoor activity.
- Curvature of the lenses
This is an important factor since lenses should ideally mimic the shape of your natural eyeball to give you as normal vision as possible. When lenses are too curved, they can distort vision. Lenses must be a bit flatter at the front and more rounded or curved near the sides for a better vision.
Making the choice:
Now that you are more aware of what polarized sunglasses are, how they work and how can they be used, you can make a decision regarding which one to buy. To recap you must look for well-fitting sunglasses which are lightweight and comfortable. It would be best if you also decided whether you want glass lenses for plastic ones. Going to the beach? You should probably go for glass since glass is scratch resistant and will fare better in seawater which has salt particles that can scratch plastic easily. The color of the lenses is an important factor; it is not just to make the sunglasses look pretty. Specific colors perform specific tasks. Finally, how carved the lenses are will affect your vision so make sure the curvature on the lenses is just perfect; flatter in the middle and more curved at the edges.
Now that you are more informed you can make a better buying decision not just with polarized sunglasses, but with all types of sunglasses.