Whether it’s summer or winter, picking up your favourite pair of shades in order to enjoy the great outdoors is a great way to protect your eyes and show your personal style. While you can express yourself with fashionable frames, the most important thing to consider when purchasing your lenses is UV protection. It’s tempting to want to snag the hottest seasonal trends for a deal, but it’s important to consider the serious eye health problems associated with sun damage.

Know the risks. Overexposure to UV rays has been linked to eye problems like sunburn, age-related cataracts, degeneration of the cornea, and abnormal growths on the eye’s surface. These conditions can cause irritation, redness, blurred vision, tearing, temporary vision loss, and even blindness in some cases.

Protect your eyes. Wearing your shades year round will protect your eyes from sun damage, but beware: not all sunglasses are created equal. The greatest faux-pas when buying sunglasses is not investing in lenses that provide proper UV protection. Here are some tips for picking out your next pair:

You get what you pay for. Many inexpensive sunglass lenses scratch easily and have imperfections that cause distortion. When purchasing sunglasses, you should always consider:

  • Not all lenses labelled “UV protection” provide safe and optimal levels of protection. Choose quality sunglasses or contacts that block out 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen out 75-90% of visible light.
  • Make sure that sunglass lenses are perfectly matched in colour and free of imperfections and distortions.
  • Lens colour matters. Grey-colored lenses reduce light intensity while providing the most natural colour vision.

Stay informed. Get regular eye exams to monitor eye health, maintain good vision and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection. Check out the UV Canada smartphone app for up-to-date information on UV radiation in your location.

Exposure to UV is cumulative and direct contact with sunlight, even for short periods of time can cause long-term eye health problems. If you’re still not sure which pair is right for you, your local optometrist will help you find the perfect pair so you can enjoy the sun safely— and in style.