Best Types of Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a versatile tool capable of giving James Dean his cool, Audrey Hepburn her glamor, and Bono his hipness, but despite all that they are so much more than a fashion accessory. Sunglasses are an ultra-important line of defense in the fight against ultra-violet radiation. The right pair of sunglasses can keep eyes healthy for years, while the wrong pair can unfortunately suscept the wearer to the full brunt of the sun’s damaging UV rays which can cause such conditions as photokeratitis, pinguecula, and permanent retinal damage. To be sure their eyes are properly protected, customers must be shrewd consumers armed with the knowledge concerning which sunglasses make the grade and which just are not quite up to snuff.

Bigger is Better

The primary function of sunglasses is to keep harmful UV rays out of the wearer eyes, and the more area they cover, the more successful they can be at doing just that. Look for a pair that not only completely covers the eye, but also goes a bit beyond it on all sides and has a thick wraparound band to protect the peripherals.

High Percentage Blocking

Of course, a full-face mask of sunglasses lenses wouldn’t do any good if the UV blocking rating was insufficiently high. Be sure to check the labels. Though virtually all of them will have some sort of marketing-lingo about eye protection, look specifically for something that says it blocks 99% of ultraviolet rays, including UVB rays. This is the level of quality that must be present to offer eyes the protection they deserve, so make sure to buy from a trusted brand.

Ground and Polished

Especially when buying prescription sunglasses, buyers will want to be sure that the lenses have been ground and polished to ensure proper quality. For nonprescription lenses, it is not as big of a deal, but buyers will of course still want to ensure the quality of these lenses. To do so, look at something with a rectangular pattern, like a floor or ceiling tile. Hold the glasses at a comfortable distance and cover one eye. Move the glasses slowly from side to side, then up and down. If the lines stay straight, the lenses are fine. If the lines wiggle, especially in the center of the lens, try another pair.


Polarized sunglasses are cut in such a way as to reduce glare off of flat objects or smooth surfaces and thus improve vision. This is especially important in sunglasses that will be used while driving. This does not offer a benefit in terms of UVA/UVB protection, but it does ensure that vision is not interrupted by unfortunate or unexpected glare.

Gradient lenses

Lenses with gradually shifting darkness from top to bottom may provide extra utility in certain situations, but are certainly not necessary for everyone. Single gradient lenses, which are dark on top and lighter on the bottom, help cut glare from the sky while allowing the wearer to clearly see things below. They are most useful for driving since they protect the eyes without dimming the view of the dashboard and car interior. Double gradient lenses are better for situations where more light reflects up than down, such as in snowy conditions, at the beach, or on the water.