No, Darker Sunglasses Doesn’t Mean Better Sun Protection—Here’s Why

Photo: Getty Images/Maksym Azovtsev
Shopping for sunglasses isn't rocket science. Nearly transparent lenses don't seem like they would do much to protect your eyes, so you're likely wearing darker shades. But darker doesn't mean better protection. When considering a pair of dark sunglasses, ophthalmologist Marc Werner, MD, of Stahl Eye Care Experts says thinking about the level of defense in terms of darkness of the lens can seriously threaten the health of your eyes.

"One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that people think their eyes are protected by wearing very dark sunglasses. Nothing can be further from the truth. The tint of the lens has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of ultraviolet protection the lens provides," says Dr. Werner. "In fact, new technology developed by Zeiss Vision has enabled 100 percent protection from ultraviolet light in completely clear lenses, further demonstrating that tint has no bearing on the level of UV protection in a lens."

While wearing any sunglasses without UV protection is risky, dark shades are actually the riskiest. "Dark sunglasses that don’t protect from UV rays are even more dangerous, because the dark lenses cause the pupil to enlarge, allowing even more UV light to enter the eye where it can lead to significant problems, such as macular degeneration," he explains. The eye disease affects 10 million Americans as the leading cause of vision loss in the country and its incurable, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF).

To find shades that look great and keep your eyes safe, Werner says it's important to choose a pair—clear or tinted—that protect against both UVA and UVB rays so you're blocking 100 percent of ultraviolet light. That way, you can enjoy spending time in the sun without putting your health at risk.

You're smart for wanting to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Do the same for your skin by wearing sunscreen on your face every day.

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