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Eye Health Center

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How to Pick Good Sunglasses

Here's tips for choosing shades that will protect your eyes from the sun's harmful effects.

Consider the Quality of the Lenses

Eye care experts agree that price isn’t a gauge of UV protection. But very inexpensive sunglasses are likely to contain lenses that are stamped out of a mold rather than ground and polished, and that can affect optical quality.

“Consistency is a concern with lower-priced glasses,” says Kehoe, a past president of the American Optometric Association. “You might find one pair that offers great clarity and another that’s the very same brand and model and highly distorted.”

To test optical quality, the FDA suggests focusing on a vertical edge or line. Move your head back and forth, allowing your eyes to sweep across the lens. “If there is any wiggle in the line,” the FDA guidelines say, “then the lenses may have an optical defect and you should choose another pair.”

Bigger is Better

Wraparound sunglasses offer the broadest protection against UV damage because they block more of the light that hits your eyes from the sides.

Sunglasses with large lenses and wide temples provide the next-best protection.

“Large lenses cover a wider area of skin so there’s a decreased window for UV penetration,” says Royal. "Sunglasses that come down to your cheekbones are a good choice.”

Think Jackie O’s iconic oversized glasses rather than John Lennon’s small, round shades.

Fit Matters

Sunglass frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears without pinching or rubbing. To prevent light from hitting your eyes from overhead, choose a pair that fits close to your face around the brow area, but not so close that your eyelashes are hitting the lenses, Royal says.

Whether you opt for high-priced designer sunglasses or a more affordable pair you find at your drugstore, you can easily find sunglasses that are flattering and functional. And protecting your eye health is one sunglass trend that will never go out of style.

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Reviewed on February 16, 2012

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