So. Now we know what ultraviolet radiation can do to our eyes. What do we do to stop the destruction? Well, many face lotions and make-up products contain a certain amount of SPF – Sun Protection Factor – but that does nothing to protect the eye itself.
Hats and caps with bills or brims are one line of defense, but the best way to protect your eyes is with sunglasses! Most sunglasses these days offer some UV protection. Look for a rating of UV400 or higher when you are buying non-prescription sunglasses. UV400 lenses filter 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays. Older sunglasses – like the vintage pair that you picked up at the resale shop – may not be as effective against UV damage as today’s sunwear.
And what about polarized? Being polarized does not guarantee UV protection.
But… what ABOUT polarized?
Ah. Well. A polarized lens’ main function is to reduce or eliminate most of the glare that is a result of the sun’s rays bouncing off of a horizontal surface. Water, snow, car hoods and concrete pavement can all cause uncomfortable glare when the sun hits them.
Tinted lenses may reduce the brightness of the light, but they don’t knock out the glare. Polarized lenses contain a filter that only allows the vertical light rays to pass, thereby eliminating a substantial amount of the glare that most people have a big problem with.
While the bright sunlight is annoying, the glare can be downright painful! If you have non-polarized lenses, you will most likely find yourself squinting against the glare which will give you those little lines at the corners of your eyes that we don’t like to talk about.
So, who benefits most from polarized sunglasses?
Most people, actually. But some who depend on their clarity most is fishermen and boaters. People who spend a lot of time on the water find that a good pair of polarized sunglasses allow them to see deeper to locate fish, obstacles or to just see what’s down there!
If you’re a landlubber, good polarized sun wear will help you when driving. The horizontal rays bounce off of the road’s surface just like they do the water and
snow. Not to mention the reflections off the metal surface of cars and other vehicles that you share the highways with.
Polarized lenses also greatly reduce eye fatigue. Very important to consider when you are driving a car or a boat.
The biggest drawback to polarized lenses is that they make it difficult to see most LCD screens. Pilots, in particular, have a issue with this in the cockpit, but it can also affect the average person at the gas pumps and ATMs. And, though polarized sunglasses are fabulous for skiers, they can get in the way of the contrast that skiers need to navigate ice patches and moguls.
Overall, though, the benefits far outweigh the down sides.
Okay. Well, how about color? The main colors of polarized lenses are varying shades of gray, green and brown. While color is a personal preference, here are some tips to guide you in your decision.
Gray is generally considered the best overall color for sunglass lenses. It works well in nearly all weather conditions, though they do make your surroundings darker. Heavily cloudy days may not be the best for gray lenses. Gray is also a neutral color. It tends to keep colors more true. Fishermen – especially those on the blue water – benefit greatly from gray lenses since gray blocks the blue light and haze that can get in your way when you are on the ocean.
Brown/copper lenses are a more high-contrast color. Brown lenses can make your surroundings a little brighter and, while enhancing colors, it can also significantly alter them. By the nature of their color, brown lenses are also not as dark as gray lenses, so they may work better for you on overcast days. For fishermen, brown lenses may improve visibility below the surface of back water areas like lakes, rivers and bays.
Green is a good compromise lens. It improves contrast while preserving more of the true color of objects. They also work well on overcast days.
Regardless of color choice, applying no-glare protection to the back of any polarized lens will eliminate reflection from light coming in from behind you. It will also allow ultraviolet rays to pass through the lens rather than bouncing back into your eyes.
Mirror finishes are another option. Besides looking awesome, they also reflect back surface light, thereby enhancing the work that polarized lenses do. Today’s mirror finishes are more durable than those in the past, so don’t let fear of damaging the lenses dissuade you from adding a mirror to your lenses.
Two of the most popular sunglass manufacturers – Maui Jim and Costa Del Mar – add backside no-glare protection and a mirror finish to most of their styles!
Whatever you decide, we at Hollywood Eyes will be happy to assist you in your sunglass selection whether you need a prescription or not!
And, if you have any questions, give us a call! We’re here for you.