Not all sunglasses are created equal. While the choices are endless, there’s only one thing that tops all sunglass considerations and it has nothing to do with price or brand names. It’s all about the UV protection. The American Academy of Ophthalmology wants you to know that selecting sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation is the best way to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.

“Wearing sunglasses without 100 percent UV protection is actually a serious health risk,” said Dianna Seldomridge, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Regardless of the season, sun exposure can increase the risk of developing growths on the eye, cataracts  and some eye cancers. The good news is, protecting yourself from the sun is easy and doesn’t require breaking the bank, just look for the 100 percent UV protection label.”

The Academy offers the following tips for picking the best sunglasses for you:

  • Look for the label

Only buy sunglasses labeled as 100% UV-A and UV-B or UV400 protection. If you’re unsure if your sunglasses provide proper protection, you can test lenses for UV safety with a photometer at an optical shop.

  • Size DOES matter

Sunglasses with larger lenses may provide more protection. Wraparound glasses offer the best coverage. These glasses can protect the eye from UV light entering from the side. Wraparounds also protect the eyes from wind, evaporation that may cause dry eye, and foreign bodies, like grit, sand or dust that can irritate the eye.

  • Price does NOT matter

A heavier price tag does not guarantee UV protection. As long as the 100% UV label is there, cheap sunglasses can be just as effective at protecting your eyes as brand name sunglasses.

  • Lens type helps with comfort, not UV protection

Darker lenses or polarized lenses do not block more radiation. Lenses can come in different shades, such as amber, gray, or green, but it’s up to personal preference which is best for you. Polarized lenses can help with glare coming off reflective surfaces, making activities like driving or water sports easier and more enjoyable.

For more information about eye health, visit the Academy’s EyeSmart website.

Story & Photo Credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology/Newswise