At our practice we are often asked the question: which sunglasses should I be wearing? The short answer is the best for your eye protection!  The longer answer is not that simple.

Firstly, the sunglasses you choose should comply with the Australia and New Zealand standards of UV protection, which provides eye protection from the UV range of 280 – 400nm. The sunglasses should be either category two or three. Category one are merely a fashion item offering minimal protection, while category four are darker and for special purposes (eg snowfields), and are not to be used while driving.

Secondly, you might decide between polarised or non-polarised lenses.  Polarised lenses are typically preferred by people who enjoy a lot of water-sports as they add another dimension of glare reduction. Others don’t like the “feeling” of polarisation or find it affects vehicle instrumentation. This is a personal choice and you should try on a pair of each to see which you prefer.  Other choices may include lens colour or tint darkness.

Thirdly, what frame style do you need?  Many different styles are available in numerous brands and various price points – it really comes down to your personal style and preference. From a health perspective, wrapped sunglasses are considered optimal as they combat sideways glare. This style is generally preferred by people who spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities.

Sunglasses are extremely important for your eye health and should also be worn in the shade to stop surface glare and ultra violet (UV) reflections. Numerous eye conditions including pterygium, eye skin cancers, cataracts and macula degenerative changes can all be precipitated by UV damage. A clinical optometrist can assess you for all these conditions and more as part of a routine eye test.

The best thing about sunglasses is that you can protect your precious eyes and look fabulous too!


Andrew Christiansen is owner and optometrist at Optical Superstore Bundaberg.