Do you have a favorite pair of sunglasses that are your go-to for outdoor activities? Turns out, your shades are more than just an accessory in your wardrobe. Not only do they come in a variety of shapes and tints, but they protect your eyes from harmful light rays. Whether you’re an avid snowboarder, sand volleyball player, or just enjoy walks outside, you should know about how your sunglasses are protecting your eyes.
What is the point of sunglasses? Why should you protect your eyes? It’s time to learn how you can take care of your eyes with a pair of shades!
What are the Different Types of Sunglass Lenses?
There are several types of lenses that are ideal for different purposes, whether it be driving, convenience, or extra bright conditions. Discover how the different types of sunglass lenses work, and which one is right for you.
Tinted from top-down to shield eyes from overhead sunlight, gradient lenses also allow more light through the bottom half.
Aside from making you look like a secret agent, mirror-coated lenses are ideal for extra bright conditions.
Also called “transition lenses”, the tint of photochromatic lenses automatically adjusts when exposed to sunlight.
When you choose prescription sunglass lenses, the days of clip-on or magnetic sun lenses are over. You can purchase lenses with your prescription tinted to any darkness you want.
As you can see, polarized sunglasses can be especially useful for fishing, snowboarding, or driving because of the way they block horizontal light. On especially sunny days, these shades will make these activities safer and more fun!
Different tints provide different benefits and are best suited to a variety of activities, but regardless of the tint you like best, you should always have lenses with UV protection.
How Do Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes?
Sunglasses protect your eyes by acting as a barrier that reflects UV rays. Sunglasses are the equivalent of sunscreen for your eyes. Aside from being a beach accessory, they protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful light rays. Experts recommend that your shades protect your eyes from at least 99% of UV rays.
As you can see, the sun’s rays can penetrate through different areas of your eyeball. UVA rays can reach all the way to the retina in the back of your eye, while UVB rays reach the cornea in the front of the eye. Sunglasses prevent these rays from penetrating your eye, saving you from potential damage or vision loss.
What are the Different Types of Sunlight?
While the sun has many different rays, UV rays are the most harmful to our eyes. UVA and UVB rays are the two basic types of sunlight that reach earth’s surface. Sunglasses are designed to reflect both UVA and UVB rays.
UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent than any other type of light, and account for 95% of UV radiation.
UVB rays are more prevalent at higher altitudes and can even penetrate on cloudy days. You can thank UVB rays for painful sunburns.
Visible light is what gives objects color. This type of light is not filtered by sunglasses and does not pose health risks.
When shopping for sunglasses, you should look for lenses that block 100% of UV rays. It’s important to remember that not all lenses block 100% of radiation. For extra UV protection, consider large lenses or a close-fitting style of sunglasses to safeguard the skin around your eyes.
Long Term Risks
Short Term Risks
- Macular Deeneration
- Cancer of the eye
- Age related Macular Degeneration
Short Term Risks
- Swollen eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Hypersensitivity to light
How Often Should You Replace Your Sunglasses?
You shouldn’t only replace your sunglasses after they’ve gotten scratched or lost. In fact, the UV protection on your sunglass lenses can deteriorate over time, meaning you should replace your sunglasses around every two years with heavy use.
In order to properly protect your eyes, it is important to replace your sunglasses to reduce the risks of UV radiation. If you’re wondering if it is safe to wear an old pair of favorites, you can take them to a local eyeglass retailer where they can test UV protection levels.
Why You Should Wear Sunglasses
You should wear sunglasses because they protect your eyes, reduce strain and sensitivity, and can be a stylish accessory. According to The Vision Council, “if the average U.S. adult spent just 30 minutes wearing a pair of sunglasses with adequate UV protection during the day, their eyes would gain nearly 183 hours of UV-free time over the course of a year.”
Not only do sunglasses protect your eyes from sun-related health problems, but they can shield your eyes from the elements like dirt, sand, water, and wind. If you’re participating in outdoor summer sports or simply running afternoon errands, having a good pair of sunglasses handy can make all the difference.
The Bottom Line
Protect your eyes and look good doing it with the perfect pair of sunglasses. Whether you have one favorite pair or multiple styles for different occasions, it is important to wear them outdoors as much as possible.
American Optometric Association (2019, May). UV Protection. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Bedinghaus, T. (2019, March 14). What to Know About Polarized Sunglasses. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Bedinghaus, T. (2019, April 30). Sunglasses: Does Color Matter? Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Heiting, G. (2019, April). UV and Sunglasses: How to Protect your Eyes. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Jones, A. (2019, February 2). Visible Light Spectrum Overview and Chart. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
MacMillan, A. (2017, May 11). You May need to Replace Your Sunglasses More Often Than You Think. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Morgan, E. (2018, February). Your Guide to Prescription Sunglasses. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Olympic Eyewear. (2012, June 8). Different Types of Sunglass Lenses. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
St. John, E. (2017, April 24) Effects of Visible Light Radiation. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
The Vision Council. (2016). Share your Sight: Using Shades for Protection and Style. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from
Travel Star. (2014). Why to Protect Your Eyes While Traveling. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from