Admit it – half of the reason you wear sunglasses is to look cool.

We’ve all been there. Some of the best outfits are hardly complete without a sweet pair of sunglasses. They can make a simple outfit of jeans and a tee look effortlessly cool and take leather jackets into a whole new dimension.

However, there’s more to sunglasses than meets the eye (sorry – we had to go there!). Sunglasses protect you from the sun, offering critical UV protection that would otherwise be extremely damaging to our eyes.

Unfortunately, not every type of sunglasses found online or in stores offers this UV protection, and some that advertise UV protection actually aren’t able to provide assurances that their product does what it claims.

To safeguard and protect your eyes, you need to ensure that your sunglasses not only look cool but also come with high-quality UV protection. Doing some research can help, as will learning about the type of UV protection your eyes need.

What Type of Protection Do Sunglasses Offer?

So, we know we need to keep our eyes protected from the sun. But what are we actually protecting our eyes from?

Most of us learned about UV rays in school. UV rays, which stand for ultraviolet rays, cause ultraviolet radiation, a type of energy that can affect our skin, eyes, and overall health. UV radiation is primarily caused by the sun, but it can also be made by artificial sources like tanning beds, lasers, and some types of manufactured lighting. That’s why you’re asked to wear those cute little goggles when you get into a tanning bed.

A few different types of UV radiation from the sun affect humans. Here’s a breakdown of the types of UV protection your sunglasses need.

UV-A Protection

UV-A rays are the most common type of UV rays that affect human beings. UV-A rays are shorter than UV-B rays, which means that they are primarily responsible for skin aging. They can also penetrate through the cornea and affect our lens and retina, which can be extremely damaging.

UV-B Protection

When directly compared to UV-A rays, UV-B rays have a longer wavelength. They are primarily responsible for sunburns.

Practically, UV-B rays are mostly absorbed by the ozone layer as they make their way to Earth, which means that the rays cannot penetrate glass and other protective surfaces as well as UV-A rays. However, they can still do damage to your eyes if they are unprotected. If it’s a sunny day and you’re wearing sunglasses with smaller lenses that don’t cover your whole eye or let light in through the sides, UV-B rays can still affect you.

How to Ensure the Best UV Protection in Your Sunglasses

When shopping for sunglasses online, it’s vital to ensure that any pair you pick offers complete UV protection, which means that it blocks between 99% to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.

These are often labeled as UV 400 sunglasses, a designation that signals that the lenses block UV absorption up to 400 nm (nanometers), which is close to 100% protection. This is the recommendation offered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, one of the country’s largest bodies of eye health professionals.

Why Choose Specific Eyeglasses for Sun Protection?

Ok, you probably get it by now – it’s important to choose sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection or are labeled UV 400. But why?

In addition to making your eyes ache and feel sore due to exposure to bright sunlight, UV radiation can have truly awful long-term effects on our eyes, including vision problems and other serious diseases. 

If you’re not wearing sunglasses with UV protection, you risk some of the following issues.

  • Headaches, eye strain, and light sensitivity. These are all common effects of intense sun exposure and can be frustrating and painful until they subside.
  • Cataracts, which cause clouding in the lens of the eye. Cataracts are a common condition, but continued exposure to the sun without sunglasses can raise your risk.   
  • Photokeratitis. This is the scientific word for sunburned eyes. It can take up to 12 hours to develop symptoms, which include redness, watery eyes, blurry vision, and swelling. Fortunately, symptoms usually disappear within two days.
  • Macular degeneration, an eye disease that can cause permanently blurry vision and eventual vision loss.
  • Melanomas of the eye. There are two different types of melanomas that can affect the eyes – intraocular and uveal. These eye cancers can be very damaging and can even cause vision loss and, in some situations, the complete loss of the eye and optic nerve.

Other Beneficial Features to Choose When Shopping for Sunglasses Online

In addition to ensuring your sunglasses are made with the best ultraviolet ray protection glasses available, there are other features that will help protect your eyes. 

Whether you’re buying a brand-new pair of sunglasses or just want to pop some replacement lenses into your favorite frames, you should ensure anything you buy also offers the following protective features. 


Polarized lenses are useful because they help block glare that reflects from other surfaces, like snow, water, car windows, or pavement. This has nothing to do with UV protection but is beneficial in situations with intense, reflected sunlight that can make it difficult to see.  

Impact Resistant

No one wants something close to their eyes that can shatter and cause damage.

That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has mandated that all glasses lenses sold must meet certain standards for impacts. This means that if you’re buying eyeglasses for sun protection from a reputable online store, they will be made to protect against impacts up to a certain level.

Make sure to check that any sunglasses you buy are labeled as impact-resistant to avoid further damage to your eyes if you were to be hit in the face while wearing your new shades.

Now That You Know

UV protection is a serious business. Buying sunglasses that don’t have it could put you at risk for both short and long-term effects, putting additional strain on your eyes and making it hard to enjoy a day out in the sun.

Instead, choose ultraviolet ray protection sunglasses from LensDirect, all of which are made with the highest levels of UV protection available. Our high-quality prescription sunglasses make it easy to match your prescription to the latest frames and lenses on the market, getting protection that’s customized to your needs.

Whether you purchase replacement lenses for your glasses or lenses and frames together, we have what you need to protect your eyes from damaging UV radiation, keeping you safe whether you’re hitting the slopes, enjoying the summer sun, or anything in between.  

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