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Should I Buy My Sunglasses From An Optician?

woman in sunglasses

It is a hot one today, Victoria! With summer comes the sun, which means get out your sunglasses, right? Well, in actuality you should always have your shades close by because they are necessary not just in the summer. So, because sunglasses are really a year-round necessity, this week’s article is going to focus on whether or not you should purchase your sunglasses from just a general store or even online versus an optical store. I will outline some surprising differences (from an unbiased point of view), and hopefully, make you more informed on this topic.

I got an awesome pair of sunglasses from the flea market!

You got a great deal on sunglasses at the local flea market, they look just like Ray-Ban’s minus the huge price tag. Yikes. Although fashion and personal style are surely going to influence what type of sunglasses you end up buying, they should not be the only things on your list to consider. It is extremely important that they also protect your eyes. Protection doesn’t just mean protection against UV light, it also means you must consider things like the quality of lenses, and coatings among other things. So, back to the topic of flea market sunglasses, yes you may have gotten a good deal, but little to no protection. In fact, you might actually be harming your eyes if the sunglasses tint is dark, but not actually made to protect against UV light. In this case, your eyes will dilate because of the dark tint and allow more UV light to enter, more so than if you weren’t wearing sunglasses at all.


What Should Sunglasses Protect You From?

Be informed! What exactly should sunglasses do for your eyes? I want to cover the three major things consumers should be aware of when choosing sunglasses:

  1. Protect against Ultra Violet (UV) Light. Look for a label that clearly states 99-100% UVA & UVB light protection. This is the recommended level of protection. In some cases, you may see a label state UV absorption up to 400nanometeres. This means that 100% UV rays are blocked.
  2. Choose sunglasses which have a wrap-around. This increases the surface area that is protected and reduces harmful exposure from the sides.
  3. Adequate intense light protection. Ensure your sunglasses block out intense light. The recommended level of light that should be blocked out is 90% or higher.

The above list is not exhaustive because your personal lifestyle will also need to be considered, but it is a good start. Speaking to a professional can help you decide whether you need specific coatings, impact resistance, or gradient lenses.


What Are The Different Sunglasses’ Tints For?

As I mentioned previously your sunglasses will be unique to your specific needs. This cannot be truer when it comes to choosing a specific tint. There are several different tint colors to choose from, ranging from browns to yellows. Check out Lasik MD’s article on which tints best suit certain activities here. This can help you decide on the most suitable option.


You Can’t Beat Speaking To A Licensed Professional

Sunglasses can be a hefty investment. Buying them at say a local drug store or online can be much cheaper. But, buyers should be aware that these products won’t necessarily stand up to those found in an optical. Why not? Well, not having the ability to speak to someone who is an expert in the industry puts you at a disadvantage. You likely are not aware of all the sunglass options and which may suit your specific lifestyle. Additionally, if you have a medical condition you might need additional protection. An optician can help you decipher through the various options that are available.

Those who need prescription sunglasses, may not be getting what they ordered online exactly. The prescription or fit of the frames could be off. It is important to always know the return policy in any case when buying sunglasses, so if you aren’t happy you’re not stuck.

The decision of where to buy your next pair of shades is obviously up to each consumer. However, I hope after pointing out the above you are a more informed consumer. That may mean speaking to an optician, looking online, looking at your local drugstore. You certainly don’t need to settle. However, it is important to compare apples with apples. So if you see that your local drug store has a cheaper version of glasses than your optical, it might be because of a lack of protection. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you local optician is willing to price match.


If you need an updated prescription for your sunglasses, give us a call or book online with Dr. Sharma