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Guide to Buying Sunglasses
Poets say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Scientists say that the eyes are the most important part of the face. We say that the eyes are the bread and butter of almost everyone.
Having good eyesight is just as important as being able to breathe properly or walk properly. With the changes that environmentalists call global warming and the perennial use of computers or mobile devices, it has become very important to protect the eyes as a primary concern.
What protects the eyes from the sun’s UV rays? The answer is sunglasses.
More than being a fashion statement, sunglasses provide protection for the eyes that cannot be done by the other ways we protect other parts of our bodies. There is no sun screen for the eyes, no cream that we can put to prevent sun burn and there is no other item that can protect the eyes as much as sunglasses can.
It is therefore imperative to have a good set of sunglasses that will protect the eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, but what are sunglasses? What is the history of sunglasses? What are the important things that one should remember when it comes to buying sunglasses? What are the top choices in the sunglasses industry? We answer these questions in this buyer’s guide.
History of Sunglasses
The origin of sunglasses can be traced back to the prehistoric time Inuit people. The first ever pair was reportedly made of a flattened walrus ivory. The main origins of the sunglasses as we know it today are, however, from ancient China and Rome.
The Roman Emperor Nero was the first one to wear sunglasses in order to protect his eyes from the sun’s glare during gladiator matches. In China, it was during the 12th century that sunglasses came to being when merchants who travel from place to place learned that they can further protect their eyes from the sun’s glare through the use of lenses that were made up of flat panes of smoky quartz.
One fun fact about the early use of sunglasses is that judges used to wear them during trials so the parties will not know how they feel and how they react as the trial progresses. After that, there was no big change in sunglasses until 1752 when James Ayscough decided to look at sunglasses and study the possibility of changing the function of the lens.
James Ayscough was the one who thought that blue-tinted glass or green-tinted glass can actually correct vision impairments. However, it was only the sun’s glares that are of primary concern of Ayscough and not the sun’s rays.
It was only in 1929 when Sam Foster introduced sunglasses to Hollywood actors that a mass production of sunglasses ensued in America and protection to the sun’s rays became a primary concern.
It was in 1936 that Polarized sunglasses were invented in order to protect the eyes from the sun’s rays, which is the primary concern of the sunglasses as we know them today.
Importance of Sunglasses
Other than the protection from sun’s rays that sunglasses provide that we continue repeating, there are also other reasons why sunglasses are important.
The general importance of sunglasses is the protection that it offers to prevent diseases such as skin cancer, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and pterygium.
It also protects the eyes from the elements of nature and allows a person to enjoy nature without the sun’s glare.
Sunglasses also aid a person when he is driving. It helps a person concentrate and focus more on the road than on the glare hitting his eyes.
Sunglasses also provide a security blanket for people. One importance of a sunglass is hiding what you are feeling. It may seem melodramatic but there are certain events in life where one would want to hide their eyes and sunglasses play a pivotal role in such events.
Finally, sunglasses are important to aid athletes in their everyday training. Wraparounds or sports sunglasses are worn by those training for a marathon and everyday athletes. They prevent sweat from getting in the eyes as well as the other natural elements.
Kinds of Sunglasses and Lenses
With the dawn of technology and advances in science, even sunglasses now have different kinds with different specializations and different lease. What are the different kinds of sunglasses?
As discussed earlier, sunglasses are almost always in style and fashion designers always come up with different frames that would be appropriate for the different shapes of the face. The different styles of sunglasses include the aviators, brow line sunglasses, retro square sunglasses, round sunglasses, wraparounds or sport sunglasses, and cat’s eye sunglasses.
However, even if you know the right frame for your face, what is important is that you know the right lens for your eye needs, after all, sunglasses are made to protect the eyes.
There are seven different tints of sunglass lenses, they are:
- Blue-blockers – the blue blockers, as the name suggests, blocks blue lights and are more usually used by professional who worked during the extreme high contrast of the sun such as pilots, fishermen or hunters.
- Polarized lenses – polarized lenses are the first lenses invented to address the issue of the sun’s rays. The current polarize lenses always come with an anti-reflective coating feature which is the third kind of lens.
- Anti-reflective coating lenses – the sunglasses that fall under this type are used mainly to prevent reflection of the sun’s glare, these are perfect especially when used during driving or navigating machinery.
- Mirror-coated lenses – the mirror-coated lenses are perfect for outdoor activities as the main function of it is to limit the amount of light that would go through the sunglass.
- Gradient lenses – gradient lenses are tinted and are perfect for driving during the extreme heat of the sun.
- Double gradient lenses – fully tinted lenses that are also perfect for driving.
- Photochromic lenses – Photochromic lenses are the most advanced of all lenses as they adjust based on the amount of UV light that the wearer is exposed to.
Tips in Buying the Right Pair of Sunglasses
Now that you know the different frames of sunglasses and the different kinds of sunglasses, the question now is: how do you buy the right pair of sunglasses? We have a few tips.
- Make sure that your sunglass would actually function as a sunglass and not just for aesthetics. Some people buy knock offs without thinking that the main function of the sunglasses is actually to protect their eyes and not just for fashion’s sake.
- The bigger the sunglass the better the coverage for your coverage. You can always ask the seller about the coverage of the lenses and which frame works best for the shape of your face.
- Know what you lack and what you need. This has always been a tip that is very commonly given but people tend to forget. When buying sunglasses one should know what he needs. Do you need something formal? Are you mainly going to use it for outdoor activities? Are you going to need one for driving? Will you buy something that comes as a set? Things are easier if you go to the shop prepared instead of listening to some pitches about how good a kind of sunglass is especially if you have no firsthand knowledge whatsoever when it comes to buying sunglasses. Follow the steps of research, decide, know what you want and stay true to your needs.
- The color of your lens will not matter, the kind of your lens do. As discussed earlier there are a lot of different kinds of lenses and one must remember that the color of the lens will not matter as long as it functions correctly. Hence, if you want to have a pink pair of sunglasses that is fine as long as the lens perfect for the function you need.
- The cost of the sunglasses should not matter. Remember that your sunglasses act as an important extended protection for your eyes. It is therefore imperative that you splurge on your sunglasses if you must.
- Free cleaning tools are a plus but not necessary. You can always buy a cleaning tool for your sunglasses. Do not be swayed by promos that give free cleaning tools if you think that you actually need something else. Sometimes, when we are faced with a choice and one choice comes with freebies, we end up going for that choice, only to find out that we do not need it in the first place. Think carefully and be adamant that you get what you need and not just what you think is more practical to buy. Remember, you cannot get your eyesight back once it has been damaged by the sun.
Top Brands of Sunglasses
The following brands of sunglasses are Rayban, Under Armour, Guess, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Oakley and basically any brand that has become a household name for the American family.
Rayban is the most popular of all of the top brands of sunglasses. They offer the classic aviators and have new designs that fashion aficionados and professional likes. The sporty and formal look that any Rayban sunglass offer would never go out of style.
Guess, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade are all new in the sunglasses market but are all very competitive especially since their market is the higher income segment.
Under Armour and Oakley are the most popular of all the sports brands when it comes to sunglasses. Nike and Adidas only come in second to these top brands. Under Armour and Oakley both focus on the athlete market and has features that are specifically designed to address the daily needs of athletes, from training to the main game.
Final Tip: However, keep in mind that the brand of the sunglasses will not matter if the lenses are not properly serving their purpose, as we repeatedly stated. Therefore, if you are looking for the right kind of sunglasses any brand that you are more comfortable with will do, as long as you get the right lens.