If you wear prescription eyeglasses you have probably had the experience of fumbling for clip on sunglasses or being forced to switch glasses to read your GPS, see a street sign clearly or even see the instrument panel in your car. This is not only annoying, but it can be downright dangerous to yourself and others around you. At times like this you may decide it’s time to invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses.
When it comes to eye care, prescription sunglasses can be a great addition to your regular glasses. Far more convenient and reliable than clip-on or magnetically attached sun glass lenses, a separate pair of sunglasses can quickly prove they are worth the additional investment.
Even for contact lens wearers, prescription sunglasses may prove more practical for outdoors. You may not want to wear contacts to the beach, for example, where sand, sun, wind and water can cause itchy and watery eyes. Additionally, if you wanted to swim, you would want to avoid contacts to prevent eye infections caused by microorganisms in the water. Prescription sunglasses also tend to offer greater protection over regular sunglass lenses. Having a pair of prescription sunglasses also just offers you more choices and alternatives in your eye care, eye health and eye protection.
Prescription sunglasses are available for nearly any lens prescription, and can include bifocal and progressive lens options if needed. You could also get a pair if you just need outdoor reading glasses, or if you wear contacts to correct your far vision, but want additional help when reading.
You can also consider prescription swimming goggles if you are a frequent beach visitor or a regular swimmer. Prescription sports glasses are also great for all your other outdoor activities!
Why do I need sunglasses at all?
Besides cutting down on glare so you’ll be more comfortable outdoors, good quality sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays. Although you can buy sunglasses everywhere from the drugstore to the car wash, in order to be sure you’re getting the right sunglasses for you it’s always better to check in with your eye care professional. At Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs we can answer all your questions about sunglasses, both prescription and nonprescription and which are best for your life.
What about the lenses that change to sunglasses when I go outside?
These are called photochromic lenses, and they automatically darken in sunlight and then return to a relatively clear state indoors. Transition lenses have been widely advertised under that brand name because the leading manufacturer of plastic photochromic lenses is a company called Transitions Optical. Photochromic lenses are very convenient, but there is one drawback: UV rays are required to activate the tint. Since most automobile windshields block a significant amount of UV rays, photochromic lenses may not darken very well inside a car.
What other types of light blocking lenses are available?
With so many lenses available, it’s a good idea to have a trained professional guide you when choosing sunglasses. Different tints can help you see better in certain conditions. At Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs we are highly experienced at helping our patients find the prescription sunglasses that will benefit them the most.
Lenses known as blue-blockers usually have amber lenses and block blue light to give heightened contrast. Some evidence indicates blue light is harmful, and could increase risk of eye damage from diseases such as macular degeneration. These lenses are popular among skiers, hunters, boaters and pilots.
Both polarized lenses and anti-reflective coating will cut reflected glare. Polarized lenses in particular are popular with those who play water and snow sports. Anti-reflection coatings reduce glare from light reflecting off the back surface of your sunglass lenses.
Mirror-coated lenses (also called flash coatings) limit the amount of light entering your eyes, to keep you more comfortable. Mirror coatings are highly reflective coatings applied to the front surface of sunglass lenses that reduce the amount of light entering your eye. They are particularly beneficial for activities in very bright conditions, such as water skiing on a sunny day. The technology of mirror coating has advanced so that today’s choices in mirror coatings include all colors of the rainbow, as well as metallic silver, gold and copper colors. Choosing the color of a mirror coating is a completely aesthetic decision. The color of the mirror coating you choose does not change your perception of color, it’s the color of the tinted lens under the coating that determines how mirrored sunglasses affect your color vision.
Gradient lenses are tinted from the top down, so that the top of the lens is darkest. These lenses are good for driving, because they shield your eyes from overhead sunlight and allow more light through the bottom half of the lens so you can see your dashboard clearly. These can be a great choice for people who wear bifocals.
Double Gradient Lenses
Double gradient refers to lenses that are also tinted from the bottom up: The top and bottom are darkest, with the middle having a lighter tint. Double gradient lenses are a great choice when you want sunglasses that aren’t too dark, but shield your eyes well against bright overhead sunlight and light reflecting off sand, water and other reflective surfaces at your feet.
I wear contact lenses. Do I need prescription sunglasses?
This depends entirely on your vision correction and lifestyle. For many people who wear contacts a pair of good quality sunglasses is all they need. However if you spend a lot of time at the beach or enjoy water sports you probably don’t want to wear your lenses and prescription sunglasses are the perfect solution.
What lens color and material is the best?
Again, this is something to discuss with your trained eye care professional. The color you choose for your prescription sunglasses is a personal choice and won’t affect how well sunglass lenses protect your eyes from UV light. Gray and brown are popular as they distort color perception the least. Athletes often prefer other tints for their contrast-enhancing properties. Yellow lenses are popular with skiers and target shooters because they perform well in low light by reducing haze and increasing contrast for a sharper image.
Prescription sunglasses are available in all lens materials. This includes high-index, polycarbonate, regular plastic, Trivex (a lightweight material similar to polycarbonate) and glass. Though glass lenses still provide the best optical quality, they are no longer the most popular choice for sunglasses, because they are heavier than lenses made of other materials, however, they are still available upon request. Don’t worry about glass lenses shattering. The FDA requires all glasses, no matter what the material to be shatterproof.
The bottom line is good quality sunglasses are an important aspect of guarding your eyesight. At Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs we are always here to answer your eye care questions. We will discuss your lifestyle, your activities and your financial needs and devise a plan that is as individual as you.
Frame Styles and Lens Options
Almost all of your favorite non-prescription brands and frames are available as prescription sunglasses as well. Most fashions, designer and celebrity eyewear options offer prescription versions of their frames and models.
It is important to note wraparound sunglasses have limited availability in prescriptions, as extreme curves in prescription sunglasses would distort vision. Even then, several manufacturers still offer wraparound sunglasses with less extreme curves, available in a limited prescription range. Consultation with your optician can help you find the options that are best for your style, fit, and desires.
Lens materials on the other hand are virtually limitless, and are available in high-index, polycarbonate, regular plastic, trivex and glass. Funnily enough, most sunglasses are no longer made of actual glass, despite glass providing the arguably best clarity for vision. This is because glass tends to be heavy and susceptible to shattering. However, they are still available upon request.
You can also purchase prescription glasses with a photochromic tint. This means the lenses would darken when exposed to UV rays, and would be light and clear when indoors. Often called “transition lenses” after the leading manufacturer of these lenses, Transitions Optical, these lenses can be a great compromise between regular glasses and traditional sunglasses.
It is important to note that one drawback of photochromic lenses is that they often do not transition in the car. This is because most windshields block enough UV rays that the tint is not activated.
You can also combine photochromic lenses with magnetic clip-on sunglasses. The magnetic sunglasses can supplement your needs and be kept in your vehicle for easy access.
Just as with regular sunglasses, prescription sunglasses should block 100 percent of harmful UV rays. This should be your primary concern when considering different brands and options of prescription sunglasses. UV protection, counter to popular belief, is unrelated to the darkness, color, or density of tint on the sunglass lens. You can choose any lens color or darkness as long as the lenses are verified by your optician to be 100 percent UV protection.
For added glare protection, you can also consider polarized sunglasses. These will help minimize light bouncing back from reflective surfaces like water, snow, concrete pavement, etc. Polarized lenses are great for anyone who spend time outdoors, such as boaters or fisherman. They are equally useful for frequent drivers, as the lenses will eliminate much of the glare from roads and car tops.
Cost of Prescription Sunglasses
Many eyeglass shops offer discounts on prescription sunglasses when purchased in tandem with regular glasses. Even if you’re on a budget, you might be surprised at how affordable they are. A great way to shop is listing all the features you want in your prescription sunglasses, then comparing prices of favorite brands to find exactly what you need.