Choose Your Sunglasses Wisely

Young Afro American Couple Pointing Finger Relaxing On Beach

Photo©Livio Monti/

Sunglasses are a health protection tool will ensure that people who exercise in the morning or afternoon do not suffer eye damage from sun exposure. However, not all sunglasses are the same. Popular-branded eyewear often suffers from counterfeiting of trademarks, patents, designs, and models, which could result in dangerous products that do not protect the eyes from the sun at all.

The most common harmful effects of the sun are photokeratitis and photo conjunctivitis. More serious are the problems that can develop in the long term, which range from cataracts to cancer: just think that four out of five non-cutaneous melanomas develop in the eye. Wearing sunglasses, as long as they are chosen safely, is important, even for small children. Their eye crystals are, in fact, in the formation phase; transformed by direct light from rays, they can become irritated and can cause (especially with age) bacterial or allergic inflammation.

Because prescription sunglasses are not a simple fashion accessory but an individual protective device, important safety requirements such as lens compliance, frames in non-toxic materials, and the ability to protect the eyes from solar radiation must be carefully considered. As a guarantee of the quality of sunglasses, a CE mark — written in spaced letters — certifies compliance by the manufacturer with special statutory requirements.

The marking must be affixed to the temples in a “visible, legible, indelible” manner. If the size of the glasses is not possible, it can be indicated on the packaging or in the attached documentation. Beware of fake products, which may certify compliance with an affixed sticker or directly on the lens. The frame must also be accompanied by a note from the manufacturer or its representative containing information on the solar filter category, solar filter type, optical class, method of use, any warnings, as well as cleaning, maintenance, and storage directions.

4 Filter Categories

Glasses are produced in categories from 0 to 4 filters, with each distinguished by color tone, usage, and environmental conditions. With transparent or very light color tones, category 0 filters are suitable for very low solar radiation, such as in the case of precipitation and low light. These filters are used for prescription, sports, and safety eyewear.

With a light color tone, category 1 filter is suitable for reducing solar radiation, as well as for fashionable cosmetics and eyewear, partly cloudy skies and varying brightness.

With a medium color tone, the category 2 filter is an all-in-one universal filter suitable for fine weather and even light conditions.

With a strong color tone, the category 3 filter is a general-purpose solar radiation filter, suitable for diffused light conditions.

With very dark color tones, category 4 filters are suitable in cases of intense solar radiation — snow, sand, mountains, water, tropical areas — and are indicated in conditions of highly diffused light, such as the midday hours and in the presence of echoing surfaces.

In addition to the standard filters, there are photochromic, polarizing, degrading sunscreens. Photochromic filters are dark in the sun and bright in the shade, and suitable for various weather conditions and brightness. Polarizing filters protect the eyes and increase visibility. Degrading filters are perfect for driving because they ensure sufficient attenuation of sunlight and optimal road visibility.

Big Frame Or Small?

To better protect oneself from ultraviolet radiation, choose a big frame, preferably with wrapping around the sides to protect the eyes from any reflected light. Ill-fitting glasses that slip down on the nose also prevent sun protection. When it comes to large, unisex frames are a popular choice for their versatile appeal.

Lens Color

Contrary to popular belief, lens colors do not protect against UV rays, but they can guarantee optimal vision in the event of defects such as myopia, ametropia, astigmatism, nearsightedness.

Yellow or orange lenses reduce the transmission of blue light and improve vision in case of fog or when skiing with overcast skies.

Blue lenses, which ensure visibility similar to black and white, distort colors, but are recommended for driving and other activities that require visual precision. They are suitable for those with near vision difficulties, such as nearsightedness.

Pink lenses, which have a calming effect, are suitable for prescription sun lenses.

Gray lenses are soothing and do not change color but distort distance perception to such an extent that they are not recommended for driving, unless they help contact lens wearers reduce glare.

Brown lenses, which are recommended for those with myopia, offer excellent protection from the sun’s rays, except in high mountains, where they help focus and counteract glare.

Green lenses — the classic sunglass lens — while very soothing, can worsen image contrast. Furthermore, by distorting the focus, they are not recommended for those with myopia; for nearsightedness, choose blue lenses.

Mason Davis is a freelance writer and researcher on health topics.