Believe it or not, the first "sunglasses" were made in China sometime in the 1400’s. The purpose of these sunglasses was far from protecting the eye from the sun. It seems that Chinese judges wore these glasses into court in order to hide their eye expressions while listening to cases. Hmmmm, gives new meaning to the phrase "who is that behind those Foster Grants" doesn’t it?
Today, sunglasses are worn by millions all over the world. They come in hundreds of colors and styles. There is a pair of sunglasses out there to suit every budget, fashion desire or sporting necessity. They range from the $2.00 a pair plastic knock-off’s available at the Weir’s Beach boardwalk to Maui Jim Whalers priced at $335.00 to the Smith Interchangeable Series, that have a dozen different colored lenses available.
For a lot of people wearing sunglasses is a fashion statement. It seems that it’s the designer name and style that hits the spot. "Just think of how those tortoise Alma J-Lo sunglasses will set off my new pink Juicy tee." There are many different designer sunglasses out there. All the big designers have sunglass lines, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Versace, Prada, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo and the list goes on and on. Even Stella McCartney has put her name on a line of designer sunglasses with prices up in the $400.00 range.
For the hiker, biker, kayaker, skier, golfer, or anyone else who spends time outdoors partaking in any type of sport, eye protection, as well as lens filtering is key. As with the Smith sunglasses mentioned above, the lens is the most important aspect of most sports sunglasses. There are lenses specifically designed for sunny conditions and lenses specifically designed for flat light conditions. Dark lenses and rose colored lenses are best for sunny conditions. Yellow or orange lenses are best for low light conditions. Some popular sports sunglass manufacturers are Bolle’, Smith, Rudy, Adidas, Body Specs and Spy Scoop. As with the designer sunglasses mentioned above, there are an endless array to choose from. Shatterproof poly carbonate lenses are what most sunglass manufacturers use. The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that all sunglasses, for fashion or for sport, must have impact resistant lenses.
In the end though, it appears what really counts in choosing your sunglasses is not the designer, color of lens, type of frame style you choose or the price you pay. It’s the UV light protection. It is as important to protect your eyes from the sun as it is to protect your skin from the sun. Although it is still debated, some medical professionals believe that daily exposure to UVB rays may cause cataracts. There are government standards for lenses that claim to have UV protection. The darkness of sunglass lenses is not an indicator of UV protection and has no effect on UV rays. What are called "UV Protective" sunglasses actually have a lens that absorb the rays. Look for sunglasses that offer at least 98% protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Most importantly, have fun choosing!