Is UV Protection Important in Sunglasses?

Sunglasses are much more than just a fashion statement. While they are a great accessory, they are also the most effective way of protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVC rays get swallowed up by our atmosphere meaning that they can’t cause us any damage, but UVA and UVB can reach the earth. Most people know that overexposure to the sun without protection can cause damage to their skin but may not be aware that their eyes can also be affected. These rays won’t only damage the skin of the eyelid, but can also penetrate the eye itself, affecting the cornea, lens, and even the retina which is found at the very back of the eye.


People who don’t adequately protect their eyes from UV damage are at greater risk of developing a range of eye conditions, some of which can have permanent consequences for their vision. These include:

-       Pinguecula and pterygium, two conditions characterized by growths on the eye.

-       Corneal sunburn, which can be very painful and debilitating.

-       Cataracts, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, but they can be treated.

-       Macular degeneration, which can cause irreversible sight loss.


Fortunately, it is possible to protect our eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, and one of the best ways to do this is by wearing the right sunglasses.

Do all sunglasses have UV protection?

Most modern sunglasses brands have UV protection actually embedded in the lens during manufacturing rather than simply coated over it afterward, and this makes the UV protection more durable. However, just having some UV protection isn’t enough. Ideally, you should choose sunglasses that are 99-100% effective at blocking out UV light. Fortunately, it is normally fairly easy to find out this information since reputable brands of sunglasses carry a label or sticker stating how effective they are.

How do I know how much UV protection my current sunglasses offer?

If you have a pair of much-loved sunglasses, but you aren’t sure just how much protection they are giving your eyes against UV damage, there is a way to find out. If you take them into your optical store, they may be able to test them on your behalf. Most offer this service for free and it takes less than a minute. Once complete, they will be able to tell you if your sunglasses offer 100% UV protection. If they are any less effective than this, you should consider changing to a variety that offers complete protection.

Does the style of my sunglasses matter?

There are countless different colors, shapes, and sizes of sunglasses to choose from and you will undoubtedly want to choose one that suits the shape of your face and your own personal sense of style. However, there are some styles of sunglasses that are more effective at keeping those harmful UV rays at bay than others. These include those with oversized lenses and chunky frames, styles that sit close to your face, and those which wrap around your face and are particularly popular with people who play sports.

Does the color of my sunglasses lenses make a difference in the amount of UV protection they offer?

One of the biggest misconceptions that many people have is that the darker the lenses are, the most UV light they must block out. Sadly, this isn’t the case. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy dark tints if that’s the style you like. Darker lenses can offer greater comfort, particularly on very bright days. However, the tint has nothing to do without the amount of UV protection that sunglasses offer. 


If you would like more information about UV protection in sunglasses, or for further advice on how UV light can affect your eyes, don’t hesitate to speak to our friendly eye care team.

Advanced Vision Institute

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