Focus on sunglasses
There’s much more to wearing sunglasses than looking stylish. In fact investing in a good pair has a whole host of very real benefits.
Why should I wear shades?
Sunglasses lenses are tinted to cut out the ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun, protecting your eyes and also the lids and skin around them.
These UV rays can cause real damage to your eyes over the years, with excessive and prolonged exposure potentially leading to a number of problems such as early cataracts and macular degeneration in later life.
If you have very blue or pale coloured eyes it’s even more important to wear sunglasses as they reduce the amount of radiation reaching the back of the eye.
Most sunglasses offer full UV protection, cutting out UV to a level required by EU law. You can check they comply with these regulations by making sure they are labelled with the CE mark.
What is UV 400?
You may have heard the phrase ‘UV 400’ when talking about the best level of protection offered by sunglasses. This means they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.
It’s a bit unclear where ultraviolet ends on the spectrum and blue light begins so the 400nm mark takes in some of the blue light of the spectrum to offer even more protection to the eye.
Dan Edwards, Patrick & Menzies Partner and Dispensing Optician, explained: “UV 400 is the belt and braces option for sunglasses. By cutting out some of the blue light it means you are definitely blocking all of the UV and this helps to further reduce glare which is particularly useful if you wear your sunglasses for driving.
“You may also come across polarised lenses when shopping for sunglasses. This means they are designed to be even better at reducing glare and they make a huge difference to the comfort of your vision.”
Most off the shelf sunglasses conform to the UV 400 measure, while our prescription sunglasses are made to order and we can make sure the tint is dark enough to filter out all of the UV.
Should children wear sunglasses?
As most damage caused by UV light is accrued over a number of years it really is of benefit for children to get used to wearing sunglasses from a young age.
Dan added: “The skin around a child’s eyes is delicate and wearing sunglasses is probably as important as having sun cream on their faces. If they need to wear normal glasses all the time, ideally, they should have prescription sunglasses to wear outside on bright days.”
How do I pick the right pair?
When choosing your sunglasses, it’s important you pick a pair that is comfortable both when it comes to the fit of the frames and the tint of the lens.
Lenses come in many different colours from grey and blue to green and brown and the right one for you will simply be down to personal preference. Get it wrong and your vision will feel uncomfortable.
When shopping for sunglasses try to go on a sunny day so you can test them out and try three or four different options to find the right one.
In terms of frames, choose a pair that is slightly bigger than standard glasses and is fairly tight fitting, but not so much that the lenses steam up. If they are very flat fronted you may end up seeing a reflection of your own eye in the lens which can be distracting so try to choose a frame that is slightly curved.
Check out our selection of sunglasses online.
Sunglasses are not just for summer
Think sunglasses are just for summer? Think again! Wearing sunglasses can be a real benefit to your eye health all year round.
Many people dust off their shades as spring moves into summer, but really if you want to keep your vision at optimal level you should be wearing those sunglasses all year round.
A good pair of sunglasses will help protect your eyes against the sun’s Ultra-Violet rays. These are present throughout the year, not just during the warmer months. Just like skin your eyes are sensitive to UV rays and it is possible for them to be damaged by the sun.
When buying a pair of sunglasses, make sure they have the CE mark which shows they have been made to EU standards. This will mean all harmful UV is filtered out.
Sunglasses are great at reducing glare. Imagine the dazzle of the low sun on a winter afternoon, or bright rays reflecting off snow or puddles. Sunglasses can help in these situations where bright light can lead to eyestrain and headaches.
It’s also easy to see how glare can cause accidents when you are behind the wheel.
With safety in mind, it is really important to choose the right pair of sunglasses for driving. The lenses shouldn’t be too dark and the frames must not obscure your vision.
For more information about picking sunglasses for driving take a look at this useful article from The AA.
At Patrick & Menzies we stock a great variety of sunglasses from big names such as Maui Jim and Serengeti which offer superior glare-protection.
Whichever you choose they can be made to your prescription, are properly UV filtered and will be fitted with as much care and attention as your regular glasses.
Thinking about investing in some new sunglasses that are not just for summer? Here are our top three picks.
This Sea2See frame offers a modern twist on a classic look. Best of all they are a great ethical option as all of the brand’s glasses are made entirely from abandoned fishnets and ropes collected by fishing communities off the coast of Spain.
The rimless design of these sunglasses from Serengeti is super stylish and lightweight. Perfect to wear whatever the season.
Maui Jim boasts that all of its sunglasses are polarized and protect from 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Add to that the company’s flair for great design and you are left with something pretty special. This pair features an almost woodgrain-like pattern.
Browse all of our sunglasses from the comfort of your own home.
A Short History of Sunglasses
We often imagine sunglasses to be a recent invention – a modern way to look cool and avoid making crow’s feet! But our ancestors too, weren’t keen on squinting in sunny weather and came up with the idea a very long time ago: As long as 2,000 years ago, in fact, the Inuits were fashioning what they called sun goggles out of bone or wood. Cut to sit close to the face they had narrow slits in them to limit the amount of light and glare that could reach the eye and would have been an essential item in a world where snow blindness was a real possibility.
The Chinese experimented with the use of flat lenses made of smoky quartz to minimise glare in the 12th century and there are even reports that the covert look created by wearing sunglasses was utilised by magistrates to avoid giving away their facial expressions! James Dean, eat your heart out!
Many believe it was the gondoliers of 18th century Venice who first wore tinted glasses specifically designed to offer protection against the sun’s rays. They were called Goldoni glasses, after the actor and playwright Carlos Goldoni, who, it is said was partial to wearing green sunglasses with green silk shades sewn to the rim! Simultaneously, around 1752 James Ayscough began experimenting with using coloured lenses to correct vision problems – an idea which we now know has much merit.
In 1885 we are told by a military surgeon in his work ‘The Optical Manual’, that British soldiers were given ‘two oval flat pieces of blue-tinted glass, set in front of two boat-shaped fine wire-gauze sides’ to act as ‘eye-protectors’ in countries such as India and Egypt.
The first recorded use of the word ‘sunglasses’, however, was in 1891 when a sports journalist reporting on a baseball game in Chicago, noted that a player ‘had lost his sunglasses and misjudged the ball frightfully’! Numerous American newspaper adverts from the late 19th and early 20th century offered sunglasses in different shades of amber and smoke.
In the golden age of Hollywood actors and actresses made sunglasses the fashion accessory they are today – not only did it make them more mysterious (like the Chinese judges!) but the dark lenses also hid the red eyes caused by late nights and studio lights! The market caught on and mass-produced sunglasses soon made the trend accessible to the man on the street. By 1937, 20 million pairs of sunglasses were being sold per year.
Polarised lenses had been invented in 1936, which provided much greater protection against the sun’s damaging rays, and when Ray Ban began making them into aviator glasses for pilots, the ‘cool factor’ of a stylish pair of sunglasses was guaranteed.
It’s a trend that’s here to stay so whether you simply want to look like a movie star, or need some serious protection against the summer sun, pop into any one of our stores and take your pick!