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It’s a bright idea to take care of your peepers.
Many people consider sunglasses an optional accessory, but doctors say otherwise: “The sun’s rays can burn the outer layers of the eyes, just as they burn the skin. Sunglasses help your eyes filter light and they protect the eyes from ultraviolet light that may contribute to conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration,” Dr. Marc Grossman, co-author of “Natural Eye Care, Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing,” told MarketWatch. Dr. Myles Zakheim, co-founder of eyecare company Zak, says that UV rays from the sun “greatly contribute to corneal eye irritation, dry eye and retinal damage.”
But not all sunglasses are created equal, doctors tell MarketWatch. “It doesn’t matter if sunglasses cost $5 or $400 as long as they offer both UVA and UVB protection of up to 400nm, which stands for nanometer, which is the wavelength of ultraviolet light,” says Dr. Rebecca Taylor, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who adds that it also “doesn’t matter if the lenses are mirrored, pink, blue or yellow.” Grossman concurs that the thing to look for in sunglasses is that “they should block out 99% or higher of UVA and UVB radiation.” Here are some of the best sunglasses — including these stylish J+S aviators for about $17 on Amazon — that meet those standards.
These 100% UVA/UVB shades are designed to fit over prescription glasses but can also be worn alone. One thing that makes these sunglasses stand out even more: “They have maximum wraparound protection as they block light from above and the sides,” says Dr. Grossman.
These glasses have garnered almost 5,000 reviews on Amazon, 74% of which have been 5-star. They offer UV 400 protection, blocking out 99%-100% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Only 29.5% of American adults wear sunglasses while playing a sport or exercising outdoors, and only 33.7% wear them while watching a sporting event, according to The Vision Council’s most recent VisionWatch survey from 2017. But they should, which is why these highly rated glasses landed on our list. With nearly 4,000 Amazon customer reviews and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating, these scratch-resistant, lightweight glasses are great for outdoor enthusiasts. One purchaser commented, “They look and feel like high end sunglasses — the frames are a combination of metal covered with polymer and the nose bridge is adjustable and replaceable.”
So what’s the deal with polarized lenses? Because they contain a special filter that blocks intense reflected light, they provide superior glare protection, especially on the water — which is why they are great for people doing summer sports like kayaking.
But they can be an unnecessary expenditure for people who just need regular sunglasses, says Dr. Grossman. However, if you’re in a situation with intense glare, “filtering out the exposure to horizontal light waves can improve how well you see, reduce eye strain and maximize eye protection,” says Dr. Emily chew, deputy clinical director at the National Eye Institute.
Dr. Grossman recommends Ray Ban sunglasses as an example of a quality product that provides 100% UVA/UVB protection. With a variety of styles available, this pair has more than 980 customer reviews and a 4-star rating on Amazon.
Bottom line: It’s never too early to start wearing sunglasses. Optometrist Dr. Justin Bazan says parents should start setting good eye health habits with their kids early on and make eye health a priority for themselves: “Make sure you pick a pair of sunglasses that match your personal style so that you’ll be more likely to wear them whenever you step outside.”
These glasses block 100% UVA/UVB rays and have spring-hinge construction which allows for enhanced durability. In addition to their 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, one reviewer commented, “Great product, I actually ended up buying two pairs due to the value and quality.”