Reviewed by : Dr. Matthew Miller, OD on 02 July, 2021

Sunglasses have been ‘cool’ for a long time, and for good reason! The best thing about them though (besides the cool factor!) is the fact they’re actually good for the long-term health of your eyes and vision.

So, the question often asked is what type of sunglasses are best for your eyes? The answer? Well, that depends on what you’re using them for. Laying on the beach soaking up the sun is quite different from skiing downhill at 60mph!

What Are the Best Sunglasses for UV Protection?

Not all sunglasses are created equal. You can buy a pair off the shelf that simply has tinted lenses that don’t actually offer any UV protection at all. While having a tinted lens certainly helps with glare and light sensitivity, it’s always recommended to look for sunwear that offers some degree of UV protection.

UV light can damage your eyes — just like your skin — if you’re too exposed to it. UV light has been shown to hasten cataract formation and is partly responsible for the development of macular degeneration, a disease of the retina that causes central vision loss. It’s always worth it, in my opinion, to pay a little extra to get this protection.

What Are the Best Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyes?

A good place to start is with what was previously mentioned — a pair that provides UV protection. Aside from that, depending on what you wear them for, you might want to think about shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses placed in a sturdy frame, safety frame, or even sports goggles. It’s also a good idea to look for sunglasses specifically designed to be used in certain sports, such as snow sports or competitive fishing.

What Should You Look for in Sunglasses Lenses?

The biggest factors are UV protection and comfort. The comfort being both how the lenses are tinted and if they’re sufficiently tinted enough to provide maximum comfort from glare. Over-the-counter sunglasses can certainly get you by in a pinch, but in many cases they don’t have UV coating and the lenses may scratch or discolor with time.

In general, the frames that house these lenses are usually not very good quality. If you’re outside a lot, it’s a good idea to invest in a high quality pair of sunglasses. The improved standard of materials, coating, and tint is noticeable.

What Types of Sunglasses Should I Avoid?

I don’t know if there are any sunglasses you should avoid in particular. But, as mentioned, ophthalmic grade sunglasses are overall much better than over-the-counter pairs. As with anything, you get what you pay for, after all. Remember, UV protection and, depending on the use, shatterproof lenses and frame styles and sturdiness play a protective role in your vision and eye health.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors or participate in snow sports or fishing, it’s always recommended to have a good pair of sunglasses on hand. If you haven’t been wearing them, remember, they can help protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision. Consider getting a pair and joining the ‘cool’ camp without further delay!