All About Sunglasses

A woman tries on a pair of sunglasses while holding her white cane.
Wendi, a Sharper Vision Store customer, shops for a new pair of sunglasses.

The tantalizing smell of outdoor barbecues, long nights spent sitting on the deck and warm days relaxing lakeside all herald the arrival of summer! Sunscreen, bug spray and sunglasses are all necessities during this time of fun in the sun. But sunglasses are not just for beach-goers or feeling groovy.

Why Should You Wear Sunglasses?

Protect your eyes against sunlight. Ultraviolet light, which is invisible, has many damaging effects. UV-A and UV-B light can hurt the corneas, lenses and retinas of your eyes. Blue visible light can also damage your retinas.

Travel more safely with the best contrast. Different colors of sunglasses can increase contrast. When sunglasses are too dark, contrast is reduced and you might not see a curb, step, or a crack in the sidewalk. This can lead to a fall. Choose a pair of sunglasses that best enhances contrast for you.

Make your eyes more comfortable. Do you squint when light is too bright? Your eyes might be sensitive to sunlight.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Sunglasses:

  • Wear sunglasses whenever you are outside, even on cloudy days.
  • You might need more than one pair of sunglasses depending on the time of day or activity.
  • Only buy sunglasses that provide 100% protection from UV rays. Lightly-tinted and even clear lenses can provide just as much UV protection as darker tinted lenses.
  • To guard against blue light, get sunglasses that have yellow in the tint, such as amber, orange, yellow and plum.
  • If you do activities where there is a lot of reflected light, such as boating or skiing, get sunglasses that are polarized.
  • For light-sensitive eyes, look for darker sunglasses, but be sure that they aren’t too dark and reduce contrast too much.
  • To find good contrast, try on many pairs of sunglasses and note the contrast when looking at an edge of a building and the background.
  • Before buying, go outside to natural light–colors are not the same when compared with fluorescent lights.

What Are Some Types of Sunglasses?

Non-fit-over frames are sunglasses that are worn alone. They are often made of plastic and come in many colors.

Fit-overs go over your regular eyeglasses and usually have side and top coverage. They come in lots of shades and in light, medium and dark tints.

Clip-on sunglasses are clipped to the top of existing eyeglasses and come down over the front. They don’t provide protection from light coming in from the sides or top and have more limited tints.

Slip-in sunglasses are slipped inside existing eyeglasses and hook to the top of the frame. They provide side and top protection but also don’t come in many color options.

Where Can You Purchase Sunglasses?

The Council’s Sharper Vision Store carries a large selection of tints, frames, and sizes. Some of our styles include non-fit-over frames, fit-over frames, clip-on frames, and slip-in filters, along with colored tints, such as grey, amber, orange, yellow, green and plum. We carry the name brands: Noir, Cocoon, SolarShields and Eschenbach. To help you find the right pair, we’ll ask you questions about your vision and lifestyle. You’ll also be able to walk outside and try them in outdoor light, so you’ll be confident the sunglasses will work wherever, whenever.

Please visit our store at 754 Williamson St., in Madison, go to our website at https://store.wcblind.org/, or call 800-783-5213 to request a catalog. We’re happy to help find the right pair of sunglasses for you.

Sunglasses are readily available in optical centers, sporting goods, specialty and big-box stores, as well as from online merchants. Be a smart consumer and use the tips shared here whenever purchasing a new pair of sunglasses.

Whether you’re heading out for a walk or are gardening in your backyard, remember to wear sunglasses! Slipping on a pair of shades will protect your eyes for years to come.

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