10 Sunglasses Myths that Could Ruin Your Eyes

Myth: Pricier shades are better
A higher price tag doesn’t necessarily mean the sunglasses will provide better protection against UVA and UVB rays. “Sunglasses, even at lower price points, can offer good protection,” says Inna Ozerov, MD, ophthalmologist and Director of the Miami Eye Institute. “Before you even check the price tag, read the label. If they say they block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, it’s a go. If not, move on.” Here’s how to make any pair of frames last longer.

Myth: Size doesn’t matter
As long as you cover your eyeballs, you’re safe, right? Not exactly. “Sunglasses with bigger lenses are better,” Dr. Ozerov says. “The pupils will naturally dilate when someone wears sunglasses to allow more light into the eyes. If the frame is not large enough, the UV light will get around the edges of the lens and have an easier time entering the eye when the pupil is dilated.”

Myth: Don’t worry about the scratches
Scratches on your lenses won’t harm your vision, but they can tire out as your eyes as you strain to see through a defective lens, Dr. Ozerov says. These vision boosters will improve your eyesight (no carrot-eating required).

Myth: It’s important to choose the right color lens
“Nonsense!” says Dr. Ozerov. “The color of the lens you choose—grey or brown—is a personal preference and has no impact other than that.”

Myth: All sunglasses cut glare
Unfortunately not. Only polarized lenses block glare. “All light that bounces or reflects off a surface becomes polarized if it vibrates at a specific angle,” explains Barry Kay, optometric physician and owner of Hollywood Eyes in Hollywood, Florida. “A polarized lens is mounted at the proper angle in the frame to block this reflected light. The more reflective the surface, the more polarized light reaches our eye.” Dr. Kay says that most common sources of reflective surfaces are water, windows, and even other cars, and to a lesser extent cement and asphalt. “Remember that polarized light is different than UV light,” he adds. “Polarized lenses cut glare and improve contrast, but all good sun lenses protect against UV.”

Myth: Sunglasses can expire
It depends on which aspects of the shades you’re talking about. “In terms of UV protection—no,” Dr. Kay says. “No studies I’ve seen prove a reduction in the level of UV protection with wear and time.” Scratches, on the other hand, which accumulate inevitably the longer you wear them—or keep them rattling around in your glove compartment, will lower the quality of your vision. Here are the signs that you need new glasses (that have nothing to do with your eyesight).

Myth: Cheap sunglasses are fine
Actually, even the cheapest shades block most of the harmful UV radiation, according to Dr. Kay. Unforuntaely, that’s the not the problem. “Poor quality plastic lenses distort our vision and can cause headaches,” she adds. “I always use prescription quality lenses even if the power is 0.”

Myth: Darker lenses are more protective
It seems like a darker shade would block more light, but apparently that’s not the case. “The level of UV protection is not a factor of tint,” Dr. Kay explains. “It’s determined by either a lens treatment or the type of plastic polymer of the lens.”

Myth: All shades protect against UVA/UVB light
Isn’t that the whole point? You might think. But not all sunglasses have UV protection—some are strictly fashion accessories. “When purchasing sunglasses, always look for a label, sticker, or tag indicating UV protection,” advises Justin Bazan, doctor of optometry and owner of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, New York.

Myth: You need shades only in summer
If you’ve ever been blinded by rays glinting off freshly powdered ski slopes, you know that sunlight in winter is just as strong as in summer. “It’s a common misconception that there’s less UV damage to the eyes during the colder months, and it’s not true,” Dr. Bazan says. “In winter, UV rays can reflect off snow and into the eyes. Sunglasses are key to eye protection, regardless of weather.”

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