Nonprescription sunglasses are universally popular, whether you are a celebrity in search of the latest fashion statement or an outdoor worker who needs the ultimate in sun and UV protection.
Choices of frames and lenses in this category are almost endless. You often have the option of having your regular eyeglass prescription incorporated into a sunglass frame. But many designer sunglassesthat can be purchased “over-the-counter” are called “plano,” which means without prescription.
While shopping for just the right sunglasses, you’ll find many options in styling, designer name and frame materials.
Here’s what’s happening in this arena:
Interest in performance-oriented sunglasses has surged in recent years, along with participation in outdoor activities such as mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, golfing and in-line skating. Durable and specialized performance sunglasses are needed also for certain professions such as the military.
To meet the demands of both casual and competitive athletes, sunglass manufacturers are developing innovative new sport sunglasses to provide the best vision possible under extreme conditions.
The results: lightweight, flexible, durable materials, no-slip components that do not fail in the heat of the moment and, of course, many choices in lenses.
Are prescription sunglasses a good idea?
You may sometimes find yourself driving down the road, sun shining in your eyes, as you search in vain for those clip-on or magnetically attached sun lenses that came with your prescription eyeglasses.
At times like these, you might find that prescription sunglasses are much more convenient and more than worth the additional investment.
Contact lens wearers, too, may find that wearing prescription sunglasses is sometimes a far more practical alternative outdoors. For example, you may not want to wear your contact lenses on the beach where your eyes can become itchy and watery as you battle the effects of sand, sun, wind and water.
Even the non-prescription sunglasses you wear over your contact lenses may not provide enough protection. Also, wearing your contact lenses while swimming is a bad idea because of the possibility of potentially serious eye infections caused by microorganisms in the water.
But with prescription sunglasses, you have the option of wearing them anytime outdoors without the need to search for clip-on sunglasses or deal with contact lenses.
Children may not be as interested as adults are in the fashion aspect of sunglasses. But because kids spend much more time outdoors than most adults do, sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are extra important for children.
In fact, because children spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, some experts say that up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18. (Other research cited by The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests the amount of lifetime exposure to UV radiation sustained by age 18 is less than 25 percent.)
And since excessive lifetime exposure to UV radiation has been linked to the development of cataractsand other eye problems, it’s never too early for kids to begin wearing good quality sunglasses outdoors.
UV rays aren’t the only potential danger from sunlight. Recently, researchers have suggested that long-term exposure to high-energy visible (HEV) light rays, also called “blue light,” may also cause eye damage over time. In particular, some believe a high lifetime exposure to HEV light may contribute to the development of macular degeneration later in life.
Children’s eyes are more susceptible to UV and HEV radiation than adult eyes because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of filtering these high-energy rays. This is especially true for young children, so it’s wise for kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible.
Also, be aware that your child’s exposure to UV rays increases at high altitudes, in tropical locales and in highly reflective environments (such as in a snowfield, on the water or on a sandy beach). Protective sunwear is especially important for kids in these situations