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Sunglasses and tints – so many choices!

The warm March sun on the snow covered ground, although welcome, can seem a little too bright! With the changing season I find myself reaching for my prescription sunglasses on many occasions and for a variety of activities.

We choose tinted lenses for at least five reasons: comfort, vision enhancement, fashion, concealment and protection. It can be uncomfortable driving into the rising sun on our way to work in the morning. The golf ball can get completely lost against the sky. Sunglasses can equal “cool” or “hot”.  Some tired eyes do better with shades. And the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) and short wavelength blue light (SWBL) can damage eye structures with prolonged exposure.

So how do I choose which tinted lenses are best for me? And what if I wear prescription glasses?

Generally sunglasses tend to be bigger than prescription glasses, providing more coverage of the eye area. This allows a wide field of vision and lets in less peripheral light that can cause glare. Most good sunglasses provide UV protection but not all offer SWBL protection. Other important considerations are impact resistance, scratch resistance, back surface anti-reflection coating to reduce glare and lens optical designs to reduce distortion from the curvature of the lens.

And then there is the myriad of colours! Consider yellow, amber, rose or brown lenses if you want to improve contrast. They work well in activities such as golf, cycling, skiing, running, hunting and driving in “flat” light conditions but do distort colours. Green also helps to improve contrast in tennis, baseball and golf while reducing some blue light. Gray is the best tint for reducing overall light while allowing colours to remain true. And a dark tint is great on a very bright day but not so good when the light levels drop. It is very helpful to see and test the tints of which our office has many samples.

Should sunglasses be polarized? Polarization selectively reduces light reflecting of flat smooth surfaces such as water, asphalt, vehicles surfaces, etc. Polarized lenses can be great for boating, fishing, cycling and driving.

Photochromic lenses lighten and darken in response to light level, particularly UV levels. Convenience is their main benefit. Photochromic lenses darken quickly when exposed to bright light, they are a little slower to clear and they only darken a little behind a windshield or glass. They have good UV protection like other sunglasses. Available colours are gray, brown and green.

Prescription sunglasses are great for those who require corrective lenses. Clip-on sunglasses or fit-over sunglasses can be a less expensive option.

So how best to decide? Of the five reasons highlighted in the second paragraph, which reasons are most important to you? Be prepared to discuss this when you speak to our knowledgeable staff and they will help you find your perfect shades.

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