For months we wait for summer… the warm weather, longer days, vacations, and the sun. And just as important as water and sunblock is something many people forget: sunglasses. Although important any time of year, it is extremely important to protect your eyes from the sun during summer months when spending more time outdoors.

Any sunglasses are better than no sunglasses at all. But the material, tint, coating, construction, and UV protection all play a role in how effective your sunglasses are in protecting your eyes. There are many different types of each; I’ll just highlight the most important things to look for in sunglasses:

Complete UVA/UVB Protection

  • Lenses block 99% or 100% of UVB and UVA rays
  • Lenses meet ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements. (Standards set by the American National Standards Institute.)
  • UV 400 protection. (These block light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which means that your eyes are shielded from even the tiniest UV rays.)

The Right Hue

The coating that blocks UV radiation is clear, so contrary to popular belief; a darker lens isn’t necessarily more effective. Hue does, however, play a role in the way you perceive color. Gray, green and brown lenses minimize color distortion, unlike yellow or rose tinted lenses.

Size Matters

Bigger sunglasses wrap around your face better and offer more protection against UV damage because they protect your eyes from the side. Sunglasses shouldn’t be too big, however. They should fit snugly on your nose and ears and sit close to your face to prevent light from hitting your eyes overhead.

Aside from lathering your child up with SPF during the summer, it’s also important to make sure they are wearing sunglasses. Although bothersome to some children, protecting your child’s eyes is a crucial part of preventing permanent damage. According to Dr. Mark Clement from Gateway Eye Associates, “The majority of UV damage that happens to human beings happens before our 18th birthday.” It is also important to get kids in the habit of protecting their eyes early, so they continue to do so into adulthood.

And be sure to remember that sun damage to your eyes can occur anytime during the year. The sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds and even reflect off snow to produce a glare.