Sunglasses play a vital role in maintaining eye health. They protect your eyes from the sun and bright lights, reduce that annoying contrast when you step into a dark room coming from outside, and can make it easier to relax and concentrate if you’re sensitive to bright light. Shopping for a new pair should be easy since most sunglasses are the same, right?
Wrong! If you’ve picked up a pair of sunglasses from the drugstore and found they didn’t do much, that’s because sunglasses are like any other glasses—there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. To find the best fit for your lifestyle and eye health, you need to understand the difference between sunglass lens types. Polarized, tinted, and mirror lenses all protect your eyes from the sun, but in a different manner.
Polarized sunglasses have a special chemical applied to the lenses that filter out light. This chemical is designed to line up with the light passing through the lens, like a window shade.
Only light that shines into the filter vertically will pass through a polarized lens, reducing overall light exposure. When shopping for a polarized pair of sunglasses, keep in mind that the lenses will make things look significantly darker.
Polarized lenses are ideal for those who spend long hours outdoors in high sun, making them susceptible to the eye strain, blind spots, and fatigue that come with lengthy sun exposure. These sunglasses are especially popular with sports and outdoor enthusiasts like hikers and fishers who need to keep their wits about them during the heat of the day.
Because polarized lenses are designed to filter out a significant portion of light, it’s best not to use them when you need to concentrate on images on screens, particularly LCD screens. If you need to watch your car dashboard controls, cell phone, a desktop computer, or a digital watch, you may find the images hard to make out.
Tinted lenses are the most common type of sunglasses, and they work exactly like tinted windows on cars. They filter out some of the light with a darker-color lens, but they don’t just come in one color; every tint of sunglass lenses comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Gray tinted lenses are the most common option, ideal for both sunny days and cloudy days. They protect your eyes from glare and sun fatigue, and they allow you to witness the color of nature without the sun interfering.
Amber-tinted lenses block out blue light, making them ideal for sailing or a day at the golf course when staring at the bright greens could distract you. They’ll also enhance contrast and improve your depth perception, making them ideal for variable conditions.
Green-tinted lenses are ideal for general-purpose use and are excellent at dimming glare while making shadows more visible. Compared to amber lenses, they transmit color more accurately, and they provide better contrast than grey-tinted lenses. These are a popular choice for people with light sensitivity who need a pair they can wear at length. Gamers or pilots who need to focus on a screen for extended periods often opt for yellow tinted lenses. They’re one of the best choices for clarity in low-light conditions when accuracy is essential. Blue-tinted lenses are good for color perception and provide better UV protection than many other tint
options. If you live in a snowy climate, blue-tinted lenses can help prevent snow blindness.
Red or pink-tinted lenses give you the chance to literally see through rose-colored glasses, but they’re also great for blocking blue light. They reduce eye strain and improve depth of vision. Popular with winter sports fans, they’ll help to prevent that pink glare that comes with snow blindness.
Mirror lenses have a thin reflective coating applied to the lens, made from metal or other high-tech materials. It doesn’t matter what color lenses you choose, they all work the same way, and you can expect a greyish-brown tint to your vision.
This lens type also works well for eye protection, as less light and glare reaches your eyes compared to polarized and tinted sunglasses. They also offer anonymity, as the mirror reflection makes it difficult for others to see your eyes through the glasses.
Mirror lenses are durable and ideal for driving. Those sudden bursts of sunlight from behind a cloud that distract you while driving won’t bother you when wearing a pair of mirror lenses.
Make Eyeglass Shopping Simple
Even if you need prescription lenses, it’s easy to find a pair of sunglasses that are perfect for you. You can find lenses at your optometrist, but the widest range of options can be found online, and usually at a better price.
Want designer shades? Some online glasses retailers allow you to upgrade to polarized, mirrored, or tinted lenses with whatever frames you choose. For example, you can get polarized Versace sunglasses for men or tinted Prada sunglasses for women. That way, you can achieve the designer look while still providing your eyes with optimal protection. Seeing the World Through a New Lens When it comes to keeping your eyes healthy, sunglasses are just as important as prescription glasses, except everyone needs them—even if you have 20/20 vision. Remember that sunglasses are more than a novelty item you can pick up from a beachfront shop; they’re the key to enjoying the outdoors without the glare, eye strain, and potentially permanent damage to your eyes.