Choosing the Right Lenses; Not so Crystal Clear?
The snow has disappeared and before we know it, we’ll be packing away our winter gear and unveiling our spring and summer wardrobe for the sunny season. Soon we will be sporting sandals, colourful tee’s, our new beach bikini and most importantly our sunglasses.
But when it comes down to choosing the perfect eyewear, some choices may not be so crystal clear. Most consumers are in the loop about the sunshine damage to our skin, but are left in the shadows about the sun ray’s damage on our eyes. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory anymore, as they provide necessary protection.
How vital is protective wear and UV ray shield? These are questions you may consider asking during your next sunglass-shopping trip. To correctly shield the eyes, consumers must know how to select appropriate sunglasses, since wearing the wrong type can do more harm than good. And on top of all these technical inquiries, one question might also come to mind: Will I have to burn a hole in my credit card to get the right protection?
Over the years, I’ve owned several pairs of spectacles of all different shapes, sizes and colors. Shades ranging in price from $12 to $200 have made temporary residence in my purse. So will a bit of extra comfort and polished rims make a noticeable difference? A pair of sunglasses seems so simple — it’s two pieces of tinted glass or plastic in a plastic or metal frame. It turns out that there are various different things you can do with two pieces of glass, and these things can have a big effect on you when you use the lenses.
To get to the bottom of this, I spoke with Dr. Ralph Chou, a professor for the School of Optometry at the University of Waterloo, who specializes in sunglass protection and general protective function of spectacle lenses. When looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses for the upcoming sunny season, Chou said to focus on:
According to Dr. Chou, for best visual performance and sun protection, shoppers should stick to grey, brown or green lenses. Although black may be a trend setter this season, black may often be too dark if needing to decipher color.
“If it’s too dark it can start to interfere with ability to see traffic signals,” says Dr. Chou. “Dramatically dark lenses should be kept for mountain climbing or other related activities.”
The sun produces many different kinds of light. The kind most likely to injure the eye is: ultraviolet radiation, which is invisible and is often called “UV rays”. There are two types of UV rays that reach the Earth’s surface: UVA and UVB. According to Dr. Chou, these rays can cause or speed up the progress of several diseases that affect the eye or its supporting structures. UVB rays have also been linked to skin cancer. Most of the damage caused to eyes by UVB and UVA rays happens over a long period of time and cannot be reversed. Making sure sunglasses indicate both types of protection is extremely important, says Dr. Chou. For additional protection of the eye, he also advises shoppers to keep in mind the advantage of polarized lenses, who are great for drivers or people engaged in water related sports.
From the streets of downtown Toronto to the Paris Runways, sunglass lovers all agree on one thing: the bigger the better. “You need a lens that is a little bit bigger so access from sunlight is blocked from the front and side, wrapping and hugging the face,” says Dr. Chou. Jackie O-style sunglasses are protected, glamorous and ooze effortless wealth.
When purchasing your perfect pair of specs, it’s important that the quality of the lens is top notch. According to Dr. Chou, the lens should have the ability to withdraw the pressure up to a certain level. Aside from that, looking for any kinks or sharp edges will help you set apart a strong set of lenses from a weak pair. He notes that any detectable distortions of a lens are a sign that it may have not been properly made. To figure out whether or not your lenses are in good shape, Dr. Chou advises to take a look at the reflection form the front of the lens and tilt to look at how the reflection changes shape. Besides a gentle curve, if there are major distortions or waves, this is a sign that the lens is not good quality.
Some of Dr. Chou’s favorite pairs include Revo, Rayban or Serengeti drivers, however he ensures that burning your expenses isn’t always necessary. “It all depends on what the person is looking for and what the sunglasses will be used for,” says Chou. “Dime store sunglasses may do the trick too.” He highly recommends talking to your optometrist to get advice on what would be a suitable product.
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