Sunglasses aren't just a fashion accessory. They are an important protection for your eyes against the damaging rays of the sun. It's important for you to know what kind of light you need to protect your eyes from and what type of light is not necessarily harmful. Here are some tips for picking the right pair of nonprescription sunglasses.  

Choose glasses that block 99 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays. This is the most important feature of your sunglasses, and you should always choose sunglasses that provide this protection. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight is linked to eye disease, including cataracts. Some manufacturers' labels say UV absorption up to 400nm. This is the same thing as 100 percent UV absorption. Some glasses make additional claims for blocking infrared rays, but research has not shown a close connection between infrared rays and eye disease.

Don't rely on the price. Budget conscious? Many types of affordable sunglasses offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection, so you don't need to spend a lot of money on a pair of sunglasses.

Sunglasses

Check the quality of the sunglasses. In addition to UV protection, you also want to check the optical quality of the lenses. You can easily test the quality of sunglasses by looking at something with a rectangular pattern, such as a floor tile. Hold the glasses at a comfortable distance and cover one eye. Move the glasses slowly from side to side, then up and down. If the lines stay straight, the lenses are fine. If the lines wiggle, especially in the center of the lens, try another pair.

Look for impact-resistant lenses. All sunglasses must meet impact standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety. No lens is truly unbreakable, but plastic lenses are less likely to shatter when hit by a ball or stone. Polycarbonate plastics, used in many sports sunglasses, are especially strong, but scratch easily. If you buy polycarbonate lenses, choose ones with a scratch-resistant coating.

Use protective eyewear instead of sunglasses for hazardous activities. If you are going to be engaged in outdoor activities like water or snow skiing that put your eye at risk for injury, don't count on your eyeglasses for protection. Protective eyewear is available with UV protection to shield your eyes from sunburn and glare.

Lens color tinting and polarization are personal preferences. There's no medical reason to recommend one tint of lens over another. Likewise, while polarized lenses work better at deflecting glare, they're not blocking any more harmful UV light than non-polarized lenses.

Once you have the right sunglasses, make sure you wear them, especially in the summer when UV levels are at least three times higher than in the winter. Also be sure to wear them when participating in winter sports, particularly at high elevations.

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