There is a lot more to a pair of sunglasses than looking good. Quality sunglasses should be in your emergency/survival gear.
by Leon Pantenburg
The sun reflecting off the water was practically brilliant I had to squint to see. I was on the Mississippi River during the hottest part of the summer, in the middle of an end-to-end canoe voyage. (Check out the book!) The heat was intense, and the combined glare and wind were almost blinding.
Even wearing sunglasses, my eyes would sometimes feel as if they had sand in them. Sunglasses were an important part of my gear, and I wore them from sunup to sundown.
At the other extreme, the sun reflecting off the snow was nearly blinding. I was snowshoeing in the Cascades, and the crystal-clear sky, brilliant sunlight and intense glare were almost painful. In such a situation, the light intensity can cause snow blindness, where the sunlight actually burns the corneas of the eyes. Your sunglasses may end up being the most important part of your arctic gear.
So how do you choose the best sunglasses for your particular outdoor needs? Here are some thoughts.
You don’t want just any sunglasses off the rack. Some of the cheapest models, if they don’t have adequate UV protection, can actually hurt your eyes. And good UV protection is also not expensive. You just need to look for it.
Many people shop for sunglasses by standing in front of the rack and trying on different styles until they find the pair that looks best. This may not be the best idea. Do some research about the quality of the sunglasses before buying. Decide where you will be wearing the sunglasses the most, and what kind of protection you will need.
I wore contact lens for 20 years, and sunlight made my eyes particularly sensitive. At the time, in the mid 1980s, I was working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg (MS) District, and I was frequently out on the Mississippi River on photo and writing assignments. My sunglasses had to effectively cut the glare, as well as meeting ANSI Z87.1 and OSHA regulations for industrial eye protection.
If you are working outside as part of your job, your sunglasses will need to meet these requirements. Also, check out the UV protection – it should be 99.9 – 100 percent. A plus for any sunglasses, IMO, is the impact protection. This pair of Torege has it all, and at this writing was a great deal at 60% discount!
But if your sunglasses are only going to be used on the beach to cut the glare from the sand and surf, then you might want sunglasses that make you look the most attractive, while still protecting your eyes. (If you happen to have a particularly large head like me, here is a pair of “FatHeadz” sunglasses worth considering.)
Do some serious research before investing in something that will protect your precious eyesight. Here is some input from the eye health pros:
- Check out six things to consider when buying sunglasses, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Your glasses need to block 100% of UV rays
- The more coverage is best – get big lens
- The darkness of the lens doesn’t matter
- The color of the lens doesn’t matter
- Polarization will cut the glare, which is safer, but not necessarily more protection from UV rays
- Cost doesn’t matter – they can be cheaper and more effective if they block 100% of UV rays.
- It’s the UV rays that matter!
- Here are several other reasons why you should wear sunglasses more often.
Use you common sense to protect your most valuable asset – the gift of sight.
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