Are your sunglasses working for you?

Take the time to try on several pairs of sunglasses to find the ones you feel best in, but don’t ignore their ability to protect your eyes!

How different can the dollar store sunglasses really be from the expensive brands you see at high end mall stores? And is there really a difference to my eye health? The short answer– YES! There is a difference.

Sunglasses do 5 things:

  • Protect the eye from UV radiation. This is crucial! UV radiation exposure is linked to macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Block intense/bright light to improve your comfort and reduce squinting which leads to wrinkles/crow’s feet.
  • Reduce glare (including reflected rays off water and snow) to improve your visual comfort.
  • Eliminate specific light ray frequencies to enhance contrast/improve clarity
  • Look cool!

Cheaper flea market/drugstore type sunglasses don’t provide all 5 benefits and can sometimes even make things worse! For example, if your sunglasses offer no UV protection, you increase your exposure to UV rays when the darker, non protective lens causes your pupil to open wider and allow in more UV light! Also, you might not be able to trust that “UV protection” label on glasses purchased through less than reputable sources. Quality Sunglasses employ a variety of techniques to eliminate problems with light and improve the durability of your sunglasses:

Tinting, Polarization, Photochromic technology, Mirroring, Scratch resistance, Anti-reflective treatments, UV coating.

The most important thing is to find the best combination of UV protection, lens material, lens darkness, lens color, lens coatings, and frame design for your lifestyle. Does that mean you have to buy $300 sunglasses? Absolutely not! Many optometric offices offer cool sunglasses with full UV protection at a wide range of prices. And since style counts, take the time to try them on and compare. You will see the difference!

Kimberly Friedman, OD, FAAO

About Kimberly Friedman, OD, FAAO

Dr. Kimberly Kester Friedman ( is a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She was the salutatorian of her doctoral graduation class and has obtained additional training in pediatric eye care. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. Dr. Friedman makes regular appearances on multiple local television stations and has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles on eye care topics. Dr. Friedman received the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians' President's Award for serving as the first female president in the society's 100 plus year history. She was recognized as one of Top Docs for Kids by NJ Family Magazine and the nations "top 40 under 40" professionals in the eye care field as selected by Vision Monday Magazine, and received the "People's First Award" for the northeastern region of the United States, awarded to a doctor who demonstrates excellence in eye care and community service.

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