Sunglasses Buying Guide

Buying the right sunglasses is not just about finding the shades to suit your style and budget, it's also important to consider the protection that the sunglasses you choose will afford. Take a look at our guide to buying sunglasses to make sure you pick the perfect pair for your needs.

Types of sunglasses

When choosing sunglasses it's possible to opt for designer frames, prescription and non prescription lenses and performance sunglasses that are designed to be worn when taking part in specific activities such as skiing.

Designer sunglasses

Designer sunglasses tend to be more expensive than their non branded counterparts but usually also come with more features such as light sensitive lenses and UV protection. It's easy to find designer glasses online or in stores in a huge range of prices from around £20 up to hundreds of pounds.

Non-prescription sunglasses

If you're choosing non-prescription sunglasses it's still important to make sure that your eyes are well protected from the sun so look for glasses with UV filters in the lenses. When choosing non-prescription glasses there's an almost inexhaustible choice of frames and lenses that you can pick.

Prescription sunglasses

If you're after some prescription sunglasses then your frame choice may be more limited. When picking prescription sunglasses consult your optician about the choice of frames and lens types available.

Performance sunglasses

Performance sunglasses are designed to be worn when taking part in activities such as mountain biking, skiing or hiking. These types of glasses tend to have enhanced lenses with different lens tints that work well for different circumstances. For example a yellow tint is ideal for seeing in the snow, whereas a grey tint is designed to preserve 'real' colours in bright light.

Top five performance sunglasses trends

Performance sunglasses are more popular than ever so there's a wide variety of choice when it comes to picking a pair. The following are the top five trends in performance sunglasses:

  1. Nosepads and non slip temple grids made from rubber help keep glasses in place when in competition.
  2. Polarised lenses reduce glare and provide better contrast, particularly on water.
  3. Fashionable frames combined with high performance.
  4. Durable and lightweight frame material that can keep its shape under pressure.
  5. Changeable lenses so different ones can be used for different activities.

Lens Tints

Different lens tints will affect the look and performance of your sunglasses. The following table illustrates the ideal uses for different lens tints:

Lens type Best for
Smoke dark Cuts out sunlight without reducing colours, ideal for bright and sunny days
clear Untinted and ideal for use at night or in low light both indoors and outdoors
yellow Increases depth perception and visibility, ideal for bright, glaring light ie in the snow
Flash mirror Partial mirror coating works well in low and bright light
Smoke mirrored Smoked lens works well in all types of light indoors and outdoors
Revo mirrored Scratch resistant and made from several layers of silica and titanium dioxide applied to strengthened polycarbonate they are scratch resistant with a rainbow effect.
Amber mirrored Contrast enhancing lenses that help to make out shapes on the landscape more clearly, for example when skiing or snowboarding.
Rose mirrored As with amber mirrored tints, these lenses allow you to see shapes in snow because the blue en of the colour spectrum is blocked out.

Protect your eyes and look good

These days it's more important than ever that any sunglasses you choose perform the dual function of helping you see better in bright conditions and protecting your eyes from UV rays.

UV rays can be extremely dangerous and although the majority of UV rays are absorbed by the atmosphere, some do get through and can adversely affect your eyes, even causing ocular cancer in the worst case scenario.

The closer you are to the equator the more powerful UV rays are. In addition, UV rays are stronger at high altitude and around reflective surfaces like water, snow and sand.

According to studies snow reflects 85% radiation, sand 10% and water 25%. In addition the intensity of UV rays increases by around 10% every 1000 m which is why it's advisable to choose professional standard wrap around shades when skiing and snowboarding to ensure your eyes are fully protected.

It's especially important for children under 13 to wear glasses with adequate UV protection as they can absorb much higher levels of radiation than adults.

It's not the tint of the lens that offers UV protection as even clear glasses can be coated to offer proper protection. This means that you can choose lenses in whatever shade you prefer provided they come complete with UV protection. Using very dark glasses that don't have UV protection can be harmful as they cause the pupil to become enlarged allowing a lot of UV light into the eye.

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