A Love Story

By Maggie Gibb

While loving sunglasses is easy, choosing the perfect pair for both function and fashion can be tricky.  Like beautiful shoes that pinch, sunglasses minus comfortable vision are a bad investment.

Sunglasses found popularity in the 1920’s when movie stars began wearing them on and off screen.  In the early 1930’s commercial production of sunglasses meant they were available to everyone, and in 1938 Life magazine declared sunglasses were “the fad we couldn’t live without”.  The funny truth, Hollywood’s love affair with sunglasses didn’t spring from fashion.  Stars wore sunglasses because the glaring bright set lighting and blinding camera flashes were painful and made it impossible to see.   

Popularity leads to endless options, but keep in mind that all sunglasses are not created equal, and the magic (technology) begins with the lenses.  So where to start your sunglass search?

Talk to an eye care professional about your out of home vision needs.  Opticians and optometrists are up to date on sunglass lens technology and can identify products best suited to your needs, both prescription and non-prescription.  Different manufacturers have their lanes of expertise, along with warranties and service guarantees that are worth a second look.

Sun protection!  Purchase sunglasses from a reputable source to ensure you are getting 100% UV protection that won’t be compromised by cleaning, exposure to heat, sweat or sunscreen.  Without full UV protection you can sunburn the eyes’ surface and the thin skin surrounding the eyes.  UV exposure is cumulative and causes cellular damage in the eye, accelerating the development of cataracts and potential of serious ocular diseases like macular degeneration.  

Visual acuity!  Ask your eyecare professional about sunglasses with polarized lenses and anti-reflective coatings available for both front and back of the lenses.  Glare and reflected light are more than uncomfortable, they create dangerous visual interference.  Sunrise, sunset, water, snow and shiny metal like the hood of your car are examples of everyday situations where we deal with light intensity and bounce.  Both can cause visual impairment when seconds matter.   

Once you identify your lenses, you are ready to select a frame that fits comfortably and gives you good coverage.  Another benefit of choosing the right sun lenses is  your eyes will be more relaxed and alert.  Spoiler alert! Be prepared to truly love your sunglasses.


Maggie Gibb is owner/partner of the IRIS optical practice in Lethbridge Alberta. She is active in driving best practices and new technology in eye health care including dry eye management.