How to choose the perfect sunglasses for you

From sun safety to shape and style, there’s a lot to consider when buying a pair of sunnies. Seek out the best sunglasses for you with these expert tips.

While the importance of sunscreen is widely understood, it seems Australians are much less focused on protecting their eyes from UV damage.

Recent research by Specsavers found two in five Australians did not wear sunglasses outside most of the time fewer than half owned sunglasses with UV protection.

Eyes and UV radiation

Cancer Council Victoria head of SunSmart Heather Walker says it is important to reduce ultraviolet radiation exposure to the eyes.

UV radiation can cause serious eye conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration and ocular melanoma. Eye cancer is rare, but still a risk.

Optometry Australia chief clinical officer Luke Arundel says it is important to protect eyes from UV radiation from childhood.

“Not wearing sunglasses is just as bad as heading out without a hat and sunscreen in the middle of summer,” he says.

Luke warns even on a cloudy day, indirect light coming in from the side or reflected off surfaces can contribute to eye damage.

Which sunglasses are best for eye protection?

Heather recommends close-fitting, wraparound-style sunglasses that cover as much eye area as possible. They should also meet Australian Standard (AS/NZS1067).

“The standard has five categories of lens according to the amount of UV radiation and visible light that can pass through. Choose category 2 or higher as these lenses absorb more than 95 per cent of UV radiation,” Heather says.

Some sunglasses carry an eye protection factor (EPF). SunSmart recommends sunglasses with a rating of EPF 9 or 10, which block almost all UV radiation.

“Damage to the eyes can occur more quickly when the UV is three and above,” Heather says.

“To reduce UV radiation damage to the eyes, we recommend that Australians wear both a broad-brim hat and sunglasses.

“Check the label on sunglasses to ensure they are meeting the Australian/New Zealand standard.”

Polarised lenses help reflect glare, says Luke.

sunglasses 101

How to choose sunglasses that suit you

After considering safety, it is time to think about style.

“If you have a modern, contemporary style, then your sunglasses should also reflect that by being an ‘on-trend’ style,” says Melbourne stylist Sally Mackinnon.

“If your style is classic, stick to something that is tried and tested and will work with your wardrobe season after season.”

And you don’t have to fork out a fortune.

“There are a lot of affordable sunnies around, so it’s easy to add something ‘trendy’ to your collection for a bit of fun or to match an outfit for a particular event,” Sally says.

She says the key considerations when choosing sunnies are fit and face shape.

“Think of the feeling you get when you put on a pair of pants and they ‘just feel right’,” Sally says.

“That’s how a good pair of sunnies should feel. And a frame should complement the proportions of your face and sit in all your nooks and crannies comfortably.”

Sally’s top tips for buying sunglasses:

  • Choose the opposite shape to your face.
  • If you have a round face, buy angular frames.
  • If you have a long, narrow face, avoid a cat’s-eye frame as it adds length.
  • Avoid a frame that extends beyond the width of your face – equally don’t go too narrow.
  • If you have a big face, go big. Small faces are best with a smaller frame.

Written by Donna Carton.