With summer comes sunshine, and with sunshine comes exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays and white-hot glare. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shades, keep eye protection and comfort — and not just style — in mind.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Some research suggests that high-energy ultraviolet rays from the sun can harm vision later in life. Excessive UV exposure may damage the macula, the area in back of the eye that helps transmit pictures to the brain. The risk is greatest if your eyes are light-colored.
To best protect your eyes, Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD, recommends:
- Choosing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB light. You don’t have to pay a premium – UV protection is available in all price ranges. Choose the highest level UVA/UVB protection you can find. It’s usually printed right on the tag.
- Selecting amber or brown lenses if you have macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. These colors enhance contrast, which can help you see better. But a high UV rating is more important than lens color if you have to choose, he says.
Direct sunlight can be too bright for comfort as we age and our pupils grow larger and more sensitive to light. For the best vision when you’re driving, Dr. Singh recommends:
- Looking for polarized lenses. They’re best for reducing glare. This is especially important if you have had refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK.
- Selecting brown, grey, green or yellow lenses. They’re best for minimizing color distortion.
If you already wear glasses
Prescription eyeglasses — particularly those with polycarbonate lenses — provide some built-in UV protection, says Dr. Singh. Lenses that automatically darken when you go outdoors protect against both UV rays and glare.
An optometrist can help you choose the right sunglasses for you. Once you buy them, remember to wear them regularly, notes Dr. Singh — on your nose and not on your head.