Choosing Glasses and Sunglasses

Choosing Glasses and Sunglasses

The sun emits UV rays, and unprotected, prolonged exposure to these rays can cause serious vision problems. One simple solution to maintaining healthy vision is to use UV protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, no matter the season, location or activity. In certain parts of the country, it is even more important to wear sunglasses because of the increased UV rays they receive. These “UV danger zones” represent an increased risk for exposure. Below is a map showing the top 25 U.S. cities with the highest UV concentration in 2016: 

UV Danger Map of US

The Vision Council used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service to map out the 25 U.S. cities with the highest UV concentration in 2015. More than 50 U.S. cities were analyzed for solar radiation strength, season, climatic conditions, ozone concentration, cloudiness and elevation. For daily UV index levels, visit The Vision Council’s website at


Whether wraparounds, rimless or studded with rhinestones, sunglasses are vital for shielding eyes from harmful UV rays and for diminishing glare that can cause distractions while driving, working, and playing.

There are two types of UV light – UVA and UVB rays. Unprotected, long-term exposure to either or both can lead to serious, debilitating vision problems. UVA and UVB rays reach the Earth's surface in one of three ways: directly from the sun, scattered through the open sky or reflected off surrounding environments. Once these UV rays pass through the atmosphere, our bodies and eyes are exposed to them immediately. Sunglasses and other eyewear offering protection from both UVA and UVAB rays will block UV radiation and shield the eyes. Whether you wear glasses or contacts, you also need to have sunglasses with lenses that are rated to filter UVA and UVB rays. Other lens options are also available based on personal preference, such as polarized lenses to prevent glare, or tints that offer more comfortable vision.

To learn more about how you can protect your eyes and vision from harmful UV rays, click here.  

Several different types of sunglasses are available, depending on your needs and individual preferences.

Prescription sunglasses feature lenses that correct your vision and match the prescription provided by your eye care provider.

Non-prescription (plano) sunglasses are available at most retail outlets in a variety of styles, shapes, colors  and price points to match every style and budget.

Larger frame sunglasses are an alternative to traditional sunglasses. Their increased size allows them to fit over prescription glasses.

Flip-up and clip-on sunglasses fasten to the top of frames for quick coverage in bright light. For maximum comfort, frames should fit securely on the face and head when pushed back. Look for spring-loaded hinges, which help glasses keep their shape, and full side-to-side coverage to restrict peripheral light.

Photochromic sunglasses or polarized lenses that adapt to different brightness levels and maximize visibility in low light or foggy conditions. Yellow, red and gray tints decrease distortion, whereas copper-tinted shades heighten contrast.