Do you have 20/20 vision? With this year being 2020, the premium sunglass industry is presented with a unique opportunity to play with 20/20 or “perfect” vision to upscale their marketing efforts. Many sunglasses and optical retailers have taken this year as an opportunity to place an emphasis on the importance of wearing sunglasses to keep your eyes and vision perfect, as well as having a perfect style. For consumers, justifying the price of premium sunglasses comes from research. There is a lot of information to synthesize in order to understand what to look for in a perfect pair of sunglasses. Questions like, “Why are sunglasses even important?” or, “Does it matter what lenses are made out of?” only scratch the surface. They might wonder, “Do I choose a lens color for fashion or does it have a purpose?” and naturally, “What is polarization?” Are all crucial in understanding what aspects to look for in your “perfect” pair of sunglasses.
Why You Need to Wear Sunglasses
Our vision is one of the senses that we rely on the most, therefore we must do everything we can to protect it. The world that we live in is a beautiful place, but if we gaze upon its beauty without eye protection we can cause unintentional and permanent harm to our eyes. One of the biggest culprits of harm to our eyes is UV light. Thankfully, “Sunglasses are increasing in popularity because consumers are becoming more aware and educated in the effects of ultraviolet radiation and glare3.” In order to fully understand the importance of wearing sunglasses, we must continue to educate consumers about UV light.
There are three main types of UV light; UVA, UVB, UVC. All types of UV light are harmful to your skin and eyes, and all affect you differently. UVA light is harmful in the sense that when you are exposed to it your skin and eyes age, causing them to look older. Some people develop crows feet by their eyes as a result of this type of UV radiation. UVB light is harmful because it causes burns, if you have ever had a sunburn a majority of this burn comes from UVB light. UVC light is a cancerous type of UV light. While all types of UV rays can lead to cancer, UVC light is the most dangerous type of UV light. “90 percent of all skin cancers occur above the neck and up to 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on the eyelids. Wearing sunglasses with 100% protection from UV light will not only protect your eyes but also the skin around them.2” In addition to ultraviolet light there is another form of light that is extremely damaging to your eyes. High Energy Visible light or HEV, is more commonly known as “blue light.” This is the light that is emitted from the sun and digital screens. One common misconception with HEV light is that it only comes from digital screens, however a majority of the HEV light that affects our eyes comes from the sun. This chart illustrates the different sources of blue light, and how much of each source you would need to equivocate to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure5.
Constant exposure to HEV light causes inability to sleep and dry eyes. However, the most notable problem with HEV light is the early onset of macular degeneration, which causes permanent blindness.
Understanding Sunglass Lenses
Now that we understand the consequences of UV light on eyes, the most important thing to look for in the lens of a pair of sunglasses is UV and HEV light protection. If your sunglasses do not have those protections built into the lens, it is as if you are not wearing sunglasses at all.
In addition, there are many other aspects that should be considered when answering the question “What makes a good pair of sunglasses?” When it comes to premium sunglasses, there are many different types of lens materials. Two of the most popular are glass and polycarbonate. Glass is considered a more premium material than polycarbonate because of its enhanced clarity and superior scratch resistance. Glass, however, is heavier than most other lens materials, so if you do not like heavy glasses you might shy away from something with a glass lens. Polycarbonate on the other hand is extremely light and shatter resistant. Many athletes choose to wear a polycarbonate lens because it is the best protection for their eyes if something hits them in the face. Polycarbonate is also an easier material to add a base curve to, which means you can actually bend the sunglass material to wrap around your face for more protection. This allows the manufacturer to make aesthetically pleasing fashionable frames as dictated by the current market1. The drawback to polycarbonate is the clarity in the lens, for it is only half as clear as a glass lens.
In addition to lens material, you will also want to consider the color of the lens when choosing a pair of sunglasses. Different lens colors cause you to see the world in different shades. The two most popular lens colors are gray and bronze. A gray lens is typically the darkest shade, so if you have sensitive eyes a gray lens is going to give you the most comfort. Gray lenses are great for bright, sunny days. A bronze lens is referred to as a contrast lens, and wearing a bronze lens is going to lighten the world up around you and make specific colors pop. This is a great color lens to wear when you are driving because it picks up the road lines nicely.
Another question you will want to ask yourself is, “What is polarization?” Polarization is a technology that helps eliminate glare and enhance the colors you see through your lens. Glare is caused by light reflecting off a horizontal surface and can be found in almost every circumstance. “Polarized sunglasses reduce glare while engaging in outdoor activities like driving, fishing, and boating.4” When you wear a premium polarized pair of sunglasses up to 99% of glare can be eliminated and you will be able to see more clearly.
Wrapping it Up
In conclusion, the things that we do each day affect our vision and eyesight. By simply wearing sunglasses, we can protect one of our most crucial senses that we use every day. In order to have a pair of sunglasses that will protect you the most, it is important to understand UV light, the different materials that are used to make sunglass lenses, the color of different sunglass lenses and what they mean, and polarization. Regardless of whether or not you have purchased a premium pair of sunglasses before, we all should wear sunglasses to prolong our vision and protect our eyes from harm. After all, we only have one pair of eyes and need to take care of them.
1. “Global Sports Sunglasses Market 2019-2023 | Increase in Adoption of Sports Sunglasses as Fashion Accessory to Boost Growth | Technavio.” 2019.Business Wire, Oct 25. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2308456819?accountid=4488.
2. “Top Five Reasons for Wearing Sunglasses – Starting from a Young Age: Sunglasses for Sport Ltd, the Specialist Retailer of Sports Sunglasses and Eyewear, Say there are Five very Good Reasons for Wearing Good Quality Sunglasses Starting from a Young Age.” 2019.PR Newswire, Aug 23. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2277878917?accountid=4488.
3. “The World Market for Sunglasses 2019-2024 – Rising Demand for Sports Sunglasses Drive Growth.” 2019.NASDAQ OMX’s News Release Distribution Channel, Jun 18. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2242124151?accountid=4488.
4. “Eye Love Sunglasses – 5 Reasons to Wear Sunglasses all Year Round.” 2018.M2 Presswire, Jun 07. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2050853378?accountid=4488.
5. “UV and the Skin.” Deb Group. Deb Group, 2020. https://www.debgroup.com/uk/products/innovations/stokoderm-sun-protect-50-pure/uv-and-skin.