Picking the best sunglasses for UV protection this summer

There’s more than this summer’s styles to consider when you pick out your sunglasses. A good quality pair of UV protection sunglasses will shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Before we dive into what to consider when picking the best sunglasses for UV protection, it’s useful to know a bit about UV rays and the damage they can do.

The A, B, C’s of UV radiation

UV radiation from the sun comes in 3 forms: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC doesn’t reach your eyes as the earth’s atmosphere absorbs it. UVA and UVB on the other hand, do reach your eyes. UVA can pass through your cornea to your retina at the back of your eye and can potentially damage your eyes in the long term, while UVB is absorbed by your cornea and can cause short term damage, like photokeratitis, which is essentially like having painful, sunburnt eyes.

What’s the damage?

Overall, UV radiation doesn’t just cause your skin to age, it can also:

  • increase your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts in later years
  • cause corneal ‘sunburn’
  • trigger skin cancer of your eyelids

The best way to safeguard your eyes against these conditions is with UV protection sunglasses. So when it comes to the best sunglasses to protect your eyes, what should you be looking out for?

Top tips for picking your sunglasses

First off, avoid cheap knock-offs, especially those ordered over the internet from abroad. They may look good with dark lenses but this doesn’t mean they offer your eyes UV protection. Darker lenses without a UV filter actually cause your pupils to dilate, allowing more sunlight in which is more damaging than helpful. Sunglasses sold in the UK are subject to strict regulations and should offer 99-100% UV protection against UVA and UVB.

UV radiation doesn’t just come directly from the sun but is also reflected off surfaces, which is why large frames and wraparound sunglasses, which provide the greatest coverage, are a good investment as they will offer more complete protection of your eyes.

Polarised lenses don’t have anything to do with UV protection, but they do reduce glare. So on especially bright days or in high glare conditions (e.g. around large bodies of water, snow or sand, as well while driving), these will offer greater comfort and clearer vision, along with your UV coating to protect your eyes.

Finally, a word on tints. Once again, tints don’t affect your UV protection but they do alter your vision. Yellow lenses offer greater contrast, which makes them good in overcast or snowy conditions, while brown and grey provide more accurate colour perception and so are better for driving.

To find high-quality sunglasses that will protect your eyes and make you look good this summer, pop by Ferrier and MacKinnon, your opticians in Dunfermline, Kinross, Inverkeithing and several other locations across Fife and Tayside.

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