Choosing Sunglasses

For years, we’ve casually referred to sunglasses as “shades” – a nickname that reflects the laid-back, cool vibe that goes along with the look of sunglasses. After all, for many, sunglasses represent fashion, not health.

To those fashion focused folks, we say take a closer look at your sunglasses and read what Stephen Cohen, a VSP network doctor from Scottsdale, Arizona, has to say about the health benefits of wearing sunglasses.

“Sunglasses used to be more about looking stylish than about taking care of your vision, but not anymore,” says Dr. Cohen. “Today there’s increasing evidence that ultraviolet rays in sunlight can significantly increase your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.” Both conditions usually affect older people, and it’s no wonder since years and years of sun exposure leave their mark over time.

The doctor adds, “Because both conditions can threaten healthy vision, I recommend wearing sunglasses on sunny days year-round. Plus, you’ll experience better night vision when you wear sunglasses on sunny days.”

What to Look for when Choosing the Right Pair of Sunglasses

There are a few key things to look for when picking the right pair of sunglasses. “When buying sunglasses,” says Dr. Cohen, “make sure they carry a consumer-protection label stating they’re 99-100% UV-absorbent or provide UV absorption up to 400 nanometers (nm).

“Once you’ve eliminated the threat from UV light, you can focus on other issues, such as reducing glare and choosing a tint that will allow you to control the degree of brightness reaching your eyes.”

Here’s a rundown of other things to consider when picking the perfect pair of sunglasses:


  • Go big or wrap it: Bigger frames and lenses, and also wrap-around styles, give you more UV protection because they block peripheral rays.
  • Pick polar: Polarized lenses block out sunlight glare bouncing off windshields, pavement, and other smooth surfaces.
  • Consider color: Gray lenses are best. Why? They don’t change colors. Green and brown lenses are good too.
  • Purchase prescription shades: If you wear prescription glasses, why not add prescription sunglasses to your eyewear wardrobe?
  • Shade your specs: You can make your regular glasses into sunglasses. Look for clip-on or magnetic tinted lenses that can attach to your specs.
  • Automate: Ask your eye doctor about light-reactive lenses. They automatically get darker outside, then return to normal inside.

Visit a VSP network eye care professional for a wide selection of sunglasses and lens enhancements.

Already have an RX and prefer to shop online? Use your benefits at Eyeconic®, VSP’s in-network online retailer.

Article ©2020 Vision Service Plan. All rights reserved. Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited. This article was originally published at