Sunglasses come in many shapes, sizes, and varieties. And when it comes to sports sunglasses, only the best optic design and technology can keep up with the demands needed to protect and enhance your vision for sports. There are several components that play a part in sports sunglasses: protective UV filters, glare-eliminating polarized lenses, and comfortable, secure fitting wrap-around design. Each of these technologies is critical to protecting your eyes while offering the performance needed to optimize your vision during any outdoor sport or activity.
And with all due respect to our favorite bearded rockers, getting yourself a pair of cheap sunglasses may not be the best thing for your eyes.
The most basic function of sunglasses is to make it easier to see, and to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. But not all sunglasses are created equal. Lenses for sunglasses have varying degrees of protection against ultraviolet rays from the sun. If you’re not careful, lower quality sunglasses can allow certain types of UV rays in and put your eyes at risk.
Ultraviolet rays are measured in nanometers. When we talk about the sun’s harmful UV rays in regard to sunglasses, there are usually two kinds mentioned: UVB rays with a wavelength of 280-315nm, and UVA rays with wavelengths of 315-400nm. Some sunglasses only block out UVB or lower wavelengths of UV rays. Only sunglasses with a UV400 rating filter out UV rays of up to 400nm, offering 100% protection. Lower quality sunglasses may not even block most UV rays, so always check the UV rating to ensure quality. Many cheap sunglasses with little to no UV filtering will have darker tinted lenses, but don’t be fooled as darker lenses do not translate to UV protection.
Proper protection against ultraviolet light is of the utmost importance, especially to those who enjoy outdoor activities. Short term exposure to UV rays without eye protection can cause a slight burn to the front of the eye, similar to a sunburn on your skin. Over long periods of time, frequent unprotected UV exposure also can cause clouding of your eye’s lens (cataracts), vision-obscuring growths in or around the cornea, and in some cases skin cancer around the eyes.
For more information about protecting your eyes, be sure to check out the EPA’s “sunwise” information. And for more information about understanding UV light, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s UV page.