Sunglasses Shopping Guide

We often buy sunglasses the same way we buy fashion accessories: a new pair every spring with an emphasis on fashion over function. But, being in the sun should always mean taking precautions against damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Dr. Sanger and Dr. Kennel suggests you shop smart. When making that fashionable purchase, remember sunglasses protect your eyes. So, how well they work matters just as much as how they make you look.

UV Protection

The sun's UV radiation can cause cataracts; benign growths on the eye's surface; cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes; and photokeratitis, sometimes called snow blindness, which is a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye's surface. Wide-brimmed hats and caps can block about 50% of UV radiation from the eyes, but optometrists say that is not enough protection.

Blue-Light Protection

Long-term exposure to the blue and violet portion of the solar spectrum has been implicated as a risk factor for macular degeneration, especially for individuals who are “sun sensitive.”

Comfortable Vision

The sun's brightness and glare interfere with comfortable vision and the ability to see clearly by causing squinting and watering of the eyes.

Dark Adaptation

Spending just two or three hours in bright sunlight can hamper the eyes' ability to adapt quickly to nighttime or indoor light levels. This can make driving at night after spending a day in the sun more hazardous.

Sunglass Options: You don’t need a lot of sunglass extras. But, there are some extras that are worth the added protection.

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses effectively combat reflected glare. They can provide added comfort and better vision for those who do a lot of driving or boating. For certain sports such as golf, polarization has the potential to cause a loss of visual information that may reduce performance. Polarization may not be the best choice for all situations, and should not be used for certain activities such as piloting an airplane.

Photochromic Lenses

Some people like the convenience of photochromic lenses, which darken or lighten with the amount of available light. These lenses don't darken or lighten instantaneously
when going from indoors to outdoors or vice-versa. Also, car windshields interfere with the darkening process, making photochromic lenses less effective.

Polycarbonate lenses

Polycarbonate lenses are a must for sunglasses worn for sports and activities that are potentially hazardous at work and around the home. These lenses provide excellent
impact protection, but are not a substitute for occupational or sports safety eyewear.

Wrap-around frames

Wrap-around frames provide added side protection from bright light and UV radiation.


Price is no gauge of UV protection or of lens quality.

Studies have found that some higher-priced sunglasses have poor quality lenses or inadequate UV protection, while some relatively inexpensive sunglasses are quite good in both categories.


The doctors and staff at Prairie EyeCare Center want to remind you that there are currently no federal sunglass requirements regarding UV protection, light transmission levels or lens quality. The only federal regulation concerns lens impact resistance. Voluntary industry standards are not very strict. Prairie EyeCare Center recommend that sunglasses block 99% to 100% of UV radiation. There is no uniform labeling of sunglasses with regard to UV protection. There are almost as many UV labels as there are sunglass manufacturers, and studies have found many of the labels are misleading.

For more information about UV and sunglasses see the professionals at Prairie EyeCare Center, East side of the square in Broken Bow.


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