Michelle Minnie was once a practicing optometrist and now a brand manager at SDM, a leading optical wholesaler.

These days, sunglasses are available for sale where ever you look. I know for a fact that some malls will have more than seventy sunglass vendors. They are sold in sports shops, lingerie stores, pharmacies, street corners, you name it, everybody sells them. This is interesting, since your choice of sunglasses can have a profound effect on your ocular health and a special skill set is required to make the correct choice for each individual.

In this article I would like to discuss the important factors that one should take into account when purchasing a pair of sunglasses.

Ultra Violet protection

The primary function of sunglasses is to protect our eyes from the harmful short wave length rays of the sun. The visible spectrum lies between 380 – 760 Nano meters. Good sunglasses should carry the tag UV400. This guarantees that the lenses have a coating that will block all the ultra violet wave lengths below 400 Nano meters. Wearing sunglasses without the UV400 coating can be very harmful because the dark lens causes the pupil to dilate slightly and lets even more harmful rays into the eyes. A word of caution; buying cheap sunglasses on the street may have the sticker, but not the proper coating whereas a reputable brand will not jeopardise its reputation by cheating.

Spectacle prescription

If you wear prescription glasses you must have your sunglasses prescribed by an optometrist. Even a low prescription should be incorporated in your sun lenses, because when the pupils dilate behind the dark lenses, it will exasperate the effect of the refractive error. If you are over forty years old and you need a prescription for reading, it makes perfect sense to have your sun lenses made up as multifocals. It is worth a mention that in higher spectacle prescriptions and multifocal lenses, a very curved, wrap-around style of sunglasses will be problematic to script. It can cause spatial distortion, which could make you feel off balance and distort the shape of things. It is important to heed the advice of the optometrists when it comes to lens design.

Lens colour

There is obviously a cosmetic driver when it comes to the choice of lens colour for your sunglasses, but one should not forget that a particular colour may be best suited for a particular activity. For instance, brown provides good contrast and is good for any sport where distance has to be judged.

Polarised lenses

These lenses are very effective for cutting out glare and in non-prescription form are very light. However, polarised lenses will block out LED screens including your cell phone. They are excellent for any activity associated with water sport, especially fishing because it allows one better vision by eliminating glare off the water surface.
The comfort

Humans don’t have symmetrical heads. As a rule, spectacle frames need to be manipulated to fit comfortably. This is another good reason to buy your sunglasses from an optometrist. The optical dispensing technician will be able to ensure that the choice of sunglasses will be of a design that will allow the necessary frame adjustments. Cheaper sunglasses are generally mass produced and not designed to allow proper adjustments.


Most famous brands have been extended into the sunglass world. Whilst branded sunglasses are generally more pricy, they do fulfil their brand promise in terms of quality and fashion. If you are the kind of person who likes to wear branded apparel, then it stands to reason that your sunglasses should compliment this image. After all, can there be a more visible accessory than a pair of sunglasses?


It is important to define what you would like to use the particular sunglasses you are purchasing for. As an example, if you require sunglasses for specific sports activities, there are additional factors to consider. Sunglasses for running should be very lightweight and well-fitting to ensure comfort and ease of use. If you are buying sunglasses for use on a motorcycle, ensure that they fit comfortably under your helmet and so on.

Your personal style

As with apparel and other accessories, sunglasses are an expression of your personality and personal style. Consider the look and feel of the sunglasses you select based on how you would like to express yourself whilst wearing them. Sunglasses can be playful or serious, formal or sporty. It is important that you know what you would like to express with sunglasses.


It may be wise to ask the advice of a friend or family member, but the best advice you will always find at an optometric practice. The optometrist and optical technicians possess the complete skill set required to give professional advice. Here you can be assured that all the important factors will be taken into account, such as, your visual status, lens design, lens coating, lens colour, frame design, the fit on your face, the main use of the sunglasses and last but not least the value for money aspect.

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