Sunglasses Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
Can you believe that the original intention of sunglasses was to hide emotions? It is true. Since eyes are very expressive, they tend to betray our thoughts and emotions easily. For this reason, the Chinese invented sunglasses, centuries ago. These dark glasses are effective, both in shielding our eyes from harsh sunlight and in masking our emotions!
Sunglasses reached Europe with Marco Polo and in the mid- 1700s, was used to protect the eyes. In the early 20th century, sunglasses became a rage with the beach goers. In the following decades, sunglasses gained strong foothold in the fashion world as a stylish accessory.
In the 21st century, sunglasses are used for protection, practicality and to make a style statement. In this guide, you will learn about the need for sunglasses, the different types, styles available, how to choose sunglasses, information about the various frames, lens offered in the optical shops and how to keep yourself safe from buying imitation sunglasses.
Reasons for buying Sunglasses
Sunglasses are stylish fashion accessories. But, more importantly, they are essential for maintaining good ocular health. It has been consistently observed that the sensitive skin that covers and surrounds the eye is very susceptible to cancer of the skin. A sunglass helps to keep the harmful rays from directly affecting the sensitive area.
Some people are sensitive to brightness and glare. By wearing sunglasses, we can tone down both these factors. Without the brightness and glare, such people can perform better visually and feel more comfortable. Polarizes lenses are the best bet to keep out the glare.
Listed below are some important reasons to wear Sunglasses.
The sun’s UV radiation can cause cataracts, benign growths on the eye’s surface and photokeratitis, sometimes called snow blindness, which is a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye’s surface. Wide- brimmed caps hats and caps can successfully block about 50% of the UV rays from the eyes but optometrists feel that it insufficient protection.
Most sunglasses offer Ultraviolet or UV protection that helps shield eyes from these harmful radiations. Sunglasses that meet the recommended standards of UV protection will typically offer at least 60% UVA and 70% UVB protection. Since UV protective coating is applied to the glasses during the manufacturing process itself, it will not be affected by the lens tint.
Exposure to the blue and violet portion of the solar spectrum for a long time has been implicated as the risk factor for macular degeneration., especially for people who are sensitive to light.
Even a couple of hours spent in bright sunlight is enough to hamper clear and comfortable vision. Excessive sunlight causes us to squint our eyes, itch them or makes our eyes watery. Sunglasses can remedy all these conditions and give us comfortable and clear vision.
Polarized Sunglass lenses reduce the amount of light that is reflected from any given surface and also filter some of the diffused light scattered by the atmosphere. These lenses are particularly useful in surroundings that are reflective – around water bodies or snow, to block a ‘halo’ effect around objects.
Adapting to darkness
It can be difficult for our eyes to adapt themselves to normal light or to darkness, when we move away from bright outdoor lights to indoors. This could be hazardous if one contemplates to drive at night after spending the day under bright sunlight.
Cancer of the skin
Skin on the eyelids and the skin around the eyes are very sensitive and are prone to skin cancer. Always protect your eyes against too much sunlight, dust pollution, and wind by wearing sunglasses for all outdoor activities.
How to choose the perfect Sunglasses?
When you plan to buy sunglasses, you can narrow down your choices by taking many criteria into account – lens material, lens color, the sunglass frame construction, design, occasion of wear, purpose of wear, sunglasses for enhancing your stylish looks and so on. Let’s evaluate each one of these options and get a better view of sunglasses!
1. According to shape of face
There are five basic face shapes and specific types of eyewear work best for each of them. Before you go for an expensive pair of eyeglasses, make sure you know your face type. In order to get an effect of balance, choose sunglasses that contrast with your face’s appearance.
Here is a general guide to the five types of faces.
The square face in men is usually described as strong-jawed. This face was epitomized by First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s. Wearing oversized sunglasses, she popularized a style, now called Jackie O, which is still in vogue. Women’s sunglasses are of curvier styles – round or cat-eye, that would complement one’s angular features. Men, on the other hand, would actually prefer to emphasize a strong-jawed appearance! So, sunglasses with sharp angles would work best for them.
The triangular face has a wide forehead and a narrow chin. In women, triangular faces are also called heart-shaped faces. Choose sunglasses with cat-eye frames or with well-rounded edges. Sunglasses with a wider lower edge and no straight lines along the top work well for both men and women.
The oblong face also calls for over-sized glasses. Round or rectangular lenses and sunglasses with thick frames add width. Fashion sunglasses with decorative frames or vintage style also work well.
The round face is the one that has the most noticeable curves. So, the eyewear should have preferably be angular and defined. Sunglasses that have narrow frames that are high at temples are a good choice. Colorful frames, like the classic tortoiseshell sunglasses also add definition.
The oval face has gently rounded curves. It can carry off virtually any style, designer sunglasses or sports sunglasses. Choose sunglasses that cover the face from the eyebrows to the cheekbones.
2. According to comfort and eye care
Bright sunlight of a cloudless day can be distressing and distracting, especially while driving. In the recent decades, fortunately, amber-colored lenses that filter out the additional blue light scattered by low-lying clouds are available. They give drivers a more balanced, clearer view of the road.
Polarized sunglasses can also cut down the glare of reflected light. Ultraviolet or UVA or UVB radiation has been shown to be a contributing factor for cataracts and other types of eye problems. UV- rated sunglasses are capable of blocking at least 70% UVA and 60% UVB light. Some of the designer sunglasses may block even 100% of both.
According to Frame construction
In the search for a new pair of sunglasses, frame construction plays an important role because durability of the sunglasses will greatly rely on the structure of the frame. The frame outlines the basic shape of the design and also becomes an anchor that holds the lenses. It also controls the placement of the sunglasses on the face. Sunglass frames can be made of metal, nylon, or even plastic materials.
Metal Frame Sunglasses
Sunglasses made with a thin, metal frame are strong but rigid. They have a tendency to bend easily if twisted. However, if too much pressure is applied, they may become permanently bent or even break.
Nylon Frame Sunglasses
Nylon frames are strong, lightweight and flexible. It is very durable. Due to increased durability, it is a preferred choice in many sports. It is great for skiing, water sports and other high impact sports.
Plastic Frame Sunglasses
Plastic frames are lightweight, strong and semi flexible. There is a rubber coating on the bridge and earpieces of the sunglasses frame which allows the sunglasses to remain positioned on your face. Plastic sunglasses come in vibrant, fluorescent colors and hence, add a dash of color to your personality.
3. According to Lens Material
Sunglass lens materials are restricted to glass, plastic or polycarbonate. The type of material used can greatly influence the quality of vision. The lenses may be incorporated with custom enhancements like special coatings to provide the best possible quality for your requirements.
These are the traditional materials used for lenses. They provide clear vision and can be custom made to match prescriptions accurately. They tend to be slightly heavier than the plastic or polycarbonate lenses.
These lenses are lightweight and durable. Plastic lenses are available in most of the leading brands but are prone to scratches.
These lenses are extremely durable, shatter resistant and are perfect for sports. They are highly recommended for children and extended wear.
Sunglass Lens Enhancements
In order to improve the quality of vision, certain enhancement features may be added to the lenses that are prescribed. A few are listed below.
- Mirrored Sunglass lens: They have a very reflective surface that will filter some light. Reflective lenses come in a variety of colors.
- Scratch-resistant lenses: Most plastic and Polycarbonate sunglass lens can be coated with scratch-resistant material and rendered more durable. Even glass sunglass lenses can be made more protected for daily use by using a coat this material.
- Anti-Reflective Lenses: A lens coated with anti-reflective coating allows more light to be transmitted through the lens. This can reduce the glare and improve the sharpness of the image.
- High-contrast Lenses: Orange lenses and yellow sunglass lenses offer contrast filtering. This helps in depth perception. High contrast lenses distort color and reduce glare.
- Photo chromatic Lenses: They are also called Transition lenses. These lenses automatically adjust to the light in surrounding environments, thereby reducing glare and improving clarity of vision.
- Gradient Lenses: The color of these gradient lenses range from a light to dark tint throughout the lens to give a fashionably -tinted look.
4. According to Lens Color
Sunglasses come in a variety of colors and shades of black are predominant. Different colors can provide different protections and vision enhancements. Select the color of the sunglasses judiciously, so that it matches your favorite clothes, commonly worn colors, brighten your skin tone or complement your skin, hair or eye color. Here is a list of commonly used lens colors.
Grey Sunglass lenses: They cut light without distorting colors.
Brown and Green Sunglass lenses: These offer some contrast enhancements with minimal color distortion.
Red Sunglass lenses: They offer more contrast enhancement but greater distortion.
Orange and Yellow Sunglass lenses: They offer the most color contrast and depth perception.
Clear Sunglass lenses: They do not dim light but offer good UV protection.
5. According to Style
There is a specific sunglass to suit each and every activity and lifestyle. Check out some of the popular styles available in the market to decide the style that suits you best.
These sunglasses are big and bold and usually have a wire frame. Some may have a wire across the bridge of the nose and have large lenses that are over- sized. Many enhanced features may be added to the basic lens. They are suitable for men and women.
Bi focal Sunglasses
In the ages of mid- forties and above, most people need to wear bi focal lens to enable them read books as well as look at distant objects or drive with ease. Bi focal Sunglasses include a magnifying portion built in the lower portion of the lens to assist with reading, computer and other work involving fine detail. Bi focal lens of different strengths are available according to prescribed needs.
They have high contrast lenses to provide a sharp image and cut out the glare. Popular brands catering to driving sunglasses are Maui Jim, Serengeti and Persol.
Shield sunglasses have a wide lens. It extends towards the temple, just like the Aviator and wrap glasses. Prada sells popular shield sunglasses.
These sunglasses resemble popular styles of yester years that have transcended age and have become all- time- favorites. Vintage styles may include Audrey Hepburn’s in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, which may carry us off to another day in another age!
Many styles of sunglasses are available depending on the sport. Wide lens shield or wrap sunglasses are preferred for their comfort and light weight. Water resistant sunglasses are used for water sports and very light sunglasses with good grip are used for rock climbing. Popular brands include Oakley, Arnette and Native sunglasses.
Caring for your Sunglasses
After researching and investing in the right pair of sunglasses, it is essential to take good care of the lenses and the frame. Here are a few handy tips to help you keep your sunglasses in good condition for years.
However expensive they may be, none of the sunglasses are unbreakable. Protective cases may be your best bet to keep them safe when not in use. There are two different cases, hard and soft.
Hard cases provide your glasses with the ultimate protection. Hard cases offer protection from virtually everything! They save your sunglasses from dust, water, and sand and also from accidental falls and sitting on. The condition, of course, is that the case must be securely closed. The disadvantage is its large size and inflexible structure which occupies quite some space. Women may fit it into their handbags but men cannot stuff it into their pockets!
Soft cases also protect your sunglasses well, perhaps to a lesser extent, if compared to the hard cases. Soft cases keep the glasses from getting scratched. So, if you are cautious by nature and handle your sunglasses carefully, these cases might work for you. They offer no protection against mechanical damage. But they have the advantage of being supple and can be molded to fit any where, including your pockets!
Both types come with belt rings that allow you to carry your sunglasses around your waist. Though this may not be fashionable, it is surely a practical solution.
Caring for the lens
However good the maintenance, the lens of the sunglasses unavoidably become both dirty and oily. That is why it is very important to know how to keep them clean.
Avoid using cloth
Don’t try to wipe your glasses with a piece of your clothing. This method is not only ineffective, but also potentially damaging. Even cotton clothes cannot do a good job, let alone woolen ones. Synthetic fibers are the worst materials to use for cleaning the lens.
Always use microfiber cloth
Clean your sunglasses only with microfiber cloth which is specially designed for that use. They are found in all optical shops and will be provided along with every purchase. The cloth is very smooth and will wipe off dust easily from your glasses. Just make sure that the cloth is clean. When it becomes dirty and oily, hand wash it with soap. When the cloth gets rough with repeated wash, discard it and use a new one.
Use Cleaning supplies
There are many commercial cleaning supplies available in the market designed specifically for sunglasses. They are sold in vials or as sachets of pre-moistened cloth. Though they are expensive, they are very practical. The pre-moistened cloth comes in individual packs that can fit into wallets. The only problem is that they become dry if unused for a long time.
Caring for the Frame
Frames of reputed brands are quite sturdy and can withstand many years of use. They are less sensitive than the lenses and can be cleaned without worrying about damaging them.
The only problem with frames is that the contact screws become loose with time. These are the tiny screws that are found on the edges of the sunglasses. You have to tighten them periodically. If they become too loose and fall off, the entire sunglasses will fall apart.
Avoid prolonged exposure of sunglasses to sunlight and salt water. Many frames are made of either plastic or metal. Plastic is sensitive to heat and metals react to salt water.
Avoid fakes and replica
Though there is no denying that heady feeling of wearing a designer sunglass from Prada or Ray-ban, we must be wary of the fakes and the look-alike. Though not evident initially, prolonged wear of such cheap sunglasses can cause problems like headaches, poor visibility and Astigmatism.
Having healthy eyes and a good eyesight are more important than making a style statement. Keep away from inferior eye wear. Invest in quality.
How to identify authentic Designer Sunglasses?
- The box. All authentic designer eye wear come in a box, with a sticker indicating the model number, sub-model number, the lens type and the width of the lens. (eg. RB3452W3233N54). This should match the information printed on the bridge and the arms of the glasses.
- The sunglasses case. Since fakes and counterfeits often try to copy the original, you must keep your eyes wide open. Look for good quality. Usually, there will be a distribution seal printed on the case. It should read something like ‘100% UV protection – Ray-ban’.
- The Booklet. There will be a small booklet given with all branded eye wear. Check for paper of good quality. They will be good content with relevant information. There should be no grammatical, spelling and typographical errors in the printed matter.
- The Model number. This is usually printed or painted on the inner side of the arm of the sunglasses. Look for the brand name and the model number. Check the model number in the company web site.
- Rubber on the ear and nose pieces. Remember that authentic products will never compromise on quality. Rubber on the glasses must be of good quality. They must be flexible but durable and not feel fragile, slippery or easily detachable.
- Look for the Logo. All designer eye wear come branded and their Logo will always be prominently visible on the sunglasses.
Always be cautious about a deal. If you are able to buy a branded sunglass for a ridiculously small amount, you can be assured that you are buying a fake.
Always buy from a registered and known dealer with an established shop.
Remember that sunglasses are much more than just fashion accessories to make style statements. They are essential protection for your eyes.
So, invest in the best. for your invaluable eyes.
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