How to Tell If Your Sunglasses Are Really Protecting Your Eyes

Sunglasses are great for showing off your unique style, keeping up with the trends, and protecting your eyes. However, not all sunglasses are created equally. Some are designed just to look good, while others are designed to protect your eyes. And oftentimes you can find the right pair that does all three.

But generally speaking, many pairs of sunglasses will provide some level of UV protection. While it used to be easier to identify by the coating in the lens, today most reputable brands embed the protection in the lens. UV protective glasses are best identified by their label. The label will say “100% protection against both UVA and UVB” or “100% protection against UV 400.”

However, if you already purchased sunglasses and you’re not sure if they provide UV protection or which level of protection they provide, you can take them to your local optical shop. They will be able to test them in a photometer. 

When shopping for sunglasses online, the level of UV protection should be listed in the product description.  UV 400 is the highest level that will block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. 

You’ll find some sunglasses labeled with UVC protection. UVC protection glasses protect against ultraviolet-c radiation. This is the shortest-wavelength and also the most damaging type of UV radiation. Most glasses do not contain this type of protection because this radiation is filtered by the atmosphere and does not reach the surface of the earth. 

What is UV?

UV stands for Ultraviolet radiation. While there are some health benefits to small amounts of UV light such as the production of vitamin D, improvement in mood, and increased energy. When you are over-exposed to UV rays it can be harmful and damaging to your health and the health of your eyes.  Leading to skin cancer, sunburn, premature aging, and eye damage. 

The UV light will age all structures of the eye, causing corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration. All of these things can eventually lead to decreased vision. This is why wearing sunglasses with the right amount of UV protection is important to the health of your eyes. 

There are different types of UV protection sunglasses that you can purchase to protect your eyes. With clear sunglasses, UV protection is added to the lens to provide protection from harmful UV rays. 

Do sunglasses block UV rays?

Not all sunglasses will block UV rays, the only sunglasses that will block the UV rays are the ones labeled with UV protection. You’ll need to choose sunglasses with UV protection. The UV protection acts as a barrier and reflects the harmful UV rays preventing them from getting into your eyes. There are different levels of protection to choose from and UV 400 will protect against nearly 100% of the UV rays.

Sunglasses with the right amount of protection is similar to applying sunscreen on your skin.  

Do cheap sunglasses protect your eyes?

Glasses don’t have to be expensive to protect your eyes, as long as the sunglasses have UV protection built-in or a film of protection on the lens they will protect your eyes from the glaring rays of the sun. 

You can find inexpensive sunglasses that will offer you the same protection from the UV rays that a pair of expensive sunglasses will. However, with cheaper sunglasses, the biggest downfall is that the UV coating will likely break down sooner than it would with higher-quality sunglasses.

The most important thing that you can do is read the labels on the sunglasses to know what level of protection they are providing. 

How to test if sunglasses have UV protection

Testing your sunglasses at home is possible to determine whether or not your sunglasses have UV protection. You should know that you will not be able to know the level of protection necessarily. This method involves shining a UV Light through your lenses. Depending on the visibility of the light passing through your sunglasses will tell you if they are protecting your eyes.

Here’s how you can do this,

Start by shining the UV light directly through the lens of your sunglasses. If you are not able to see the light shining through the other side your sunglasses have 100% UV protection.

Advantages of UV-rated Sunglasses

There are many advantages to wearing UV protected sunglasses. UV rays can lead to damage to your eyes wearing sunglasses that offer high levels of UV protection is essential. They will shield your eye and prevent serious vision issues in the long run. Most people don’t go out into the sun without first putting on sunblock and it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to your eyes. 

Your eyelids are super thin and regular exposure to the UV rays can lead to cataracts earlier when not properly protected. 

Some additional benefits include,

  • Provides protection on sunny and cloudy days
  • Most UV lenses have a UV-blocking film embedded in the lens, which prevents it from wearing off

Difference between UV protection and polarized sunglasses

It doesn’t matter what the UV protection is. Whether you’re comparing polarized vs 100 UV protection or polarized vs 400 UV protection. These two are not interchangeable. 

The biggest difference between UV protection sunglasses vs polarized sunglasses is the protection from the UV rays. Polarized Sunglasses simply eliminate glare. Sun glare is uncomfortable but doesn’t cause damage to your eyes. The UV protection protects your eyes from the harmful rays that damage your eyes.  For ultimate comfort and protection wear sunglasses that have both UV protection and a polarized lens.

How long UV protection lasts in a pair of sunglasses?

It takes years, but over time the UV sunglass lens protection will decrease. The UV protected glass becomes weaker and as it breaks down it starts letting more UV rays into your eye. Because of this, it’s suggested that you replace your sunglasses every several years to best protect your eyes. 

When you are shopping for sunglasses, be sure that you choose the right fit and a pair that covers your temple for optimal protection from the UV rays, especially if you are regularly exposed to heavy, direct sunlight.

How to pick the best sunglasses to protect your eyes?

It’s no easy feat when shopping for sunglasses. There are a lot of things to take into consideration with just the style alone, how they fit your face and choosing the correct tint. And when it comes to protecting your eyes it becomes a bit more complicated.

Here are some of the things that you will need to take into consideration when it comes to protecting your eyes,

  • Maximum UV protection - Choose sunglasses labeled UV 400 for maximum protection. This provides you with nearly 100% protection from harmful ultraviolet light rays. 
  • Glare protection - Polarized lenses are the ultimate protection from glare. 
  • Well-fitting, comfortable frames - ensure your eyes are properly aligned in the center of your lenses for optimal vision.
  • Sunglasses with side protection - wrap-around protection 
  • Visibility through the lenses - Stay away from tints that are too dark this decreases your visibility.
  • Scratch-resistant coating (glasses lens protector) - makes your glasses less vulnerable to scratching keeping the sun rays out of your eyes.

These might not all be directly responsible for protecting your eyes, but they do however work to make your sunglasses more effective. Remember it should never be a choice of UV protection or polarized sunglasses. You should always choose UV protection with a polarized lens for ultimate protection from the damaging rays and improved visibility with the polarized lens. 

And sunglasses don’t necessarily have to be dark to provide protection from the ultraviolet rays because UV protection glasses clear film.

At ShadyVEU, we have a full line of UV-protected sunglasses for optimal protection without sacrificing style.

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