There’s more to buying sunglasses than you might think

Don’t think of your sunglasses as primarily a fashion item: that has to be a secondary consideration. Of course, designer shades can be expensive and usually come from reputable manufacturers but they still need careful selection. On the other hand, avoid those cheapie products you find in beachfront souvenir shops and elsewhere. Okay, you say, you picked up a nice-looking pair in Ventimiglia for just €5 ... and they’ve got the CE mark which means they meet EU standards. Well, maybe, but makers of junk sunglasses don’t hesitate to put that mark on the frames. A better guarantee is when there’s a clear indication of a manufacturer’s name and address. Going for those cheapie products just isn’t a good idea: they don’t protect and can give you headaches and even double vision.

The colour of lenses is critical

Sun GlassesEven if you take buying your sunglasses seriously, your choice has to be informed. Sunglasses have two functions (not all perform both): to reduce the absorption of ultra-violet rays and to palliate the effects of bright light. An important consideration is where you will wear them and here an optician’s advice is essential (the guy in the souvenir shop won’t be any use). It’s important to say if you’re going to wear your tinted lenses on the beach, at sea, in the mountains, in town or on the sports field. Lenses are graded on a scale of 0 to 4. Zero is for fantasy specs, the commonest ratings are 2 and 3, and especially the latter, which is estimated to block out around 90% of UV rays. At level 4 the lenses are very dark and are worn in very bright light but are a no-no when driving. The colour of lenses is not a matter of fashion since it affects the perception of light and so is critical. Skiers, for example, are recommended a yellow or orange tint; short-sighted people are better off with brownish lenses, long-sighted with a green or grey colour. Blue is useless since it offers no UV protection. “Polarised” lenses, on the other hand, have the advantage of protecting against both UV rays and glare.

Frames need to be chosen carefully, too. Thick arms protect against the wind while skiers should certainly opt for a mask Anyway, here’s my advice: if you’ve bought cheapie shades – even with the CE logo! – throw them in the bin and go and see an optician.