The right pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes for life

We at the Optical Shop of Westport believe that sunglasses with the proper qualities can help you avoid significant medical problems, as well as make you look your best while you enjoy the outdoors.

Here are some of the traits to consider when choosing a pair of sunglasses.

What are UV rays?

Most importantly, your sunglasses should protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. There are two types of UV rays that can hurt your eyes: UV-A and UV-B. They are invisible because they don’t help us see colors, but they do affect our bodies in various ways.

UV-B rays help you produce vitamin D, but overexposure has also been associated with an eye disease called pinguecula, which causes yellowish bumps on the white part of your eyeball. In severe conditions – a bright day on the ski slopes -- AV-B rays are also the cause of snow blindness.

UV-A rays cause your skin to age. They also penetrate farther into your eyes than UV-B rays and are associated with macular degeneration and cataracts.

An important trait of good sunglasses is to block all UV rays.

The American Optometric Association recommends that sunglasses should

  • Block at least 99% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation

  • Screen out 75% to 90% of visible light

  • Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection.

More traits to look for

Polarized sunglasses are especially important if you spend a lot of time on the water or in the snow. Polarization blocks much of the glare that bounces off flat surfaces in the open sun.

Spend as much time on the fit of your sunglasses as you would with a regular pair of eyeglasses. The lenses are usually larger than regular glasses so that they can block the maximum amount of light. If you are playing sports, they should fit snugly, and you might consider rubber grips on the arms. 

Look good in your sunglasses

Different glasses give you a different look. Wraparound frames offer the most coverage, but other large frames can also be effective. At Optical Shop of Westport, we help you choose the frame that will look best on your face as well as protect your eyes.

We will also make sure they fit comfortably on the bridge of your nose, with the weight balanced between your ears and nose, so that they don’t pinch your head.

When to wear sunglasses

Wear your sunglasses every time you go outdoors. We have been trained to apply sunscreen whenever we go outside, no matter what time of year. Think of your sunglasses in the same way, and slip a pair on when go out the door. Incremental damage to your eyes builds up slowly and every opportunity to protect them is an opportunity to avoid problems with sight later in life.

For that reason, children also need the protection of sunglasses. In fact, young eyes are physically less able to protect themselves than adult eyes, and much of the potentially damaging exposure happens before they are 20 years old.

The opticians at the Optical Shop of Westport will answer all your questions about the protections sunglasses provide, and help you choose the pair that is best for you. Visit us at 420 Post Road West or contact us any time at 203-222-7870; 413-384-6492 (after hours); or