The Future's So Bright: Pick the Right Shades


While sunglasses are often worn for style, they can also help you maintain healthy eyes and prevent future vision loss.

Protecting Your Visions from UV Rays

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), sunglasses protect the eyes from the radiation of ultra-violet rays (UV rays). The association indicated that, while UV-C rays are not thought to cause serious harm, UV-A and UV-B radiation can cause “adverse long- and short-term effects on the eyes and vision.”

When overexposure to harmful UV rays occurs, one of the short-term effects could be photokeratitis. As noted by the AOA, this temporary condition, related to a “sunburn of the eye,” may cause uncomfortable short-term symptoms, including “red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing.”

The long-term effects of UV exposure include more serious eye conditions, like cataracts, retina damage, and an increasing risk of macular degeneration.

Although this exposure may be partially from sun, light coming from reflective surfaces, like snow or water, can also be dangerous for the eyes.

Wearing high-quality sunglasses will protect the fragile tissues of the eye from harmful UV exposure. Shoppers should look at labels and tags for information on UV protection. The most efficient sunglasses will block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.

Choosing the Right Sunglasses

Which Pair is Right for You?

Whatever you choose, make sure your next pair of shades screen out 75 to 90 percent of light.

  • Those who participate in fishing, winter sports, or other fast-paced activities could benefit from gradient or polarized lenses, which reduce glare. Another safe option could be strong polycarbonate lenses, which protect eyes from physical damage.
  • Blue-blocking lenses may be helpful for fast-paced sporting activities and boating as they make distant objects easier to see.
  • Those who are exposed to changing light conditions could tryphotochromic lenses, which adjust to lighter and darker environments.
  • For heavily lit areas, try mirror-coated lenses, which reduce visible light.
  • Glasses with gray lenses are encouraged for drivers as they allow the strongest amount of color recognition.

Take our sunglasses quiz to find out which pair will protect you most.

Click to See Our Sources

“How To Pick Good Sunglasses” by Shelley Levitt,, 2/16/12


“When You’re Choosing Sunglasses, Does UV Protection Matter?” by Dennis Robinson,, 5/4/13


“UV Protection: Protecting Your Eyes From Solar Radiation” American Optometric Association,, 2014


Pamela Bump

Pamela is the Audience Growth Manager for the HubSpot Blog and holds an M.S. in Media Ventures from Boston University. Before HubSpot, she was Taste for Life’s first Web Editor & Social Media Expert and Harvard Business Review’s first Growth Editor.  In her roles, she’s managed content strategy, social media, and audience growth tactics.

Although her career is focused on digital marketing and editorial innovation, she continues to write for TFL to quench her thirst for food blogging and health journalism.