Purchasing a new pair of sunglasses is an exciting endeavor! But with so many different options to choose from, you have a lot to think about before making a purchase. With these helpful hints and important questions to ask, purchasing sunglasses doesn’t have to be intimidating. Instead, it can be eye-opening and enjoyable.
Fortunately for you, our ultimate guide to purchasing the perfect pair of sunglasses has you covered!
Step 1: Start by getting an eye exam
A visit to your optometrist or ophthalmologist is your first step to a superior pair of sunglasses. Why? Your vision through any new pair of shades is only as precise as your prescription. As a result, ordering a new pair of sunglasses using an outdated prescription can lead to unclear, uncomfortable vision.
Note: If your eye doctor determines you don’t have a glasses prescription, you’ll simply need to buy non-prescription sunglasses.
Step 2: Talk to your optician about when you plan on wearing your sunglasses
While choosing a new frame is typically the most time-consuming element of getting new sunglasses, discussing what activities you are doing in your sunglasses is just as important.
Will you be driving, lounging on the beach, golfing, or fishing? Maybe you’ll be engaging in more active sports. Regardless of the activity, it is important to share with your optician how you plan on using your sunglasses. That way they can best match the lens style, color, and frame style to your personal needs.
Step 3: Select the perfect frame
In my opinion, selecting a frame is the most exciting part about getting a new pair of sunglasses! The frame you wear can say a lot about who you are and is an opportunity to express your personal style.
Consider your prescription and lifestyle
With this in mind, it’s important to carefully consider your prescription and visual needs. For example, a stronger prescription has more crucial frame fitting requirements, as do progressive, bifocal, and trifocal lenses. Also, patient’s with higher prescriptions must be particularly careful when choosing a frame with a large wrap. Doing so can cause discomfort when looking from side to side and, in some cases, is incompatible.
It is also important to consider your lifestyle. Are you active and need a sportier, more resilient frame? Or are you sensitive to weight or pressure and need a lightweight frame?
Sunglass frames should be larger than clear glasses. As a result, they should come up to or over your brow line and extend closer to your cheeks. This will ensure light from above and below is properly blocked. They should also offer coverage from side light, either with a frame with more wrap or a thicker temple on the frame.
Guidelines based on your face shape
While there are guidelines for the best pairing of sunglass frame and face shape, there are no steadfast rules.
Round face shapes are best complemented by a square frame shape. On the other hand, oblong or oval faces are best suited by more rectangular shapes. Also, angular or square face shapes are best suited in something with softer edges such as round or oval or cat-eye.
Frame color can also highlight and brighten your skin tone and eye color. Once you narrow down your frame options, I personally recommend going with a frame that offers the best fit and comfort.
Step 4: Select the perfect lenses
Lenses are the most important part of sunglasses! Below I’ll go through some of the many options you have available.
Tinted lenses are lenses that are dipped into tint dye. During this process, the color is absorbed into the plastic material of the lenses. They can be customized to a rainbow of colors and can be tinted to your choice of saturation, from 10% to 90%.
I often find that wearers want the darkest sunglass lenses they can get. However, it is very important to consider that when wearing a 90% tint only 10% of light is reaching your eyes. This can make it very difficult to see in anything other than direct sunlight. As a result, the most common and safest tint is 85%.
On the other hand, tinted lenses can also be done in what is known as a gradient tint. This type of tint is darkest at the top of the lens and lightens up as you approach the bottom. I’ve found it can be particularly helpful for wearers that have a hard time reading in sunglasses, as the tint is lightest in the area you read through.
Polarized sunglasses offer premium protection from UV light and provide you with crisper, more vivid color perception. These lenses reduce glare by blocking light that would typically enter your eyes after reflecting off a surface. They are uniquely created with a thin coating over the surface of the lens and provide the best visual performance and clarity during outdoor activities. In particular, they are especially beneficial for fishing and water sports as they allow you to see directly through the surface of water.
Both tinted and polarized lenses can be treated with a mirror coating. These coatings come in a dozen different colors and help reflect light off the surface of the lens. Not to mention, most of my customers love them because they’re really trendy and cool!
Anti-reflective coatings are an important element not to skip on when purchasing sunglass lenses. Why? They ensure the highest level of UVA and UVB protection (sometimes blue light protection too). They also block glare from light entering from the front or reflecting off the back surface of the lens. As a result, anti-reflective coatings on your sunglasses improve your visual comfort and prevent light from flashing into your eyes.
Once you choose a frame, your optician will help you select a lens style that is right for you. As a reminder, sunglass lenses can be single vision, progressive, bifocal, or trifocal. Before selecting a lens design, it is important to consider how active you will be when wearing your sunglasses.
For example, if you wear them during activities that include fast motions, you may want to consider single vision sunglasses. This will greatly reduce any peripheral distortion and lag in focusing.
Also, I find that most golfers prefer to wear single vision distance lenses because it’s easier to see their golf ball during their swing. However, if you go this route, don’t expect to see your scorecard clearly too! 😉
The sunglass lens material you select will impact the clarity, thickness, and weight of your sunglasses. Choosing the correct lens material based on your prescription is important to the overall aesthetics of your sunglasses.
For example, lenses can be made from basic plastic, polycarbonate, or high index lens materials (i.e. 1.6 and 1.67).
Basic plastic is the best material for tinted lenses as it absorbs color well and can be tinted to very dark tones. On the other hand, higher index materials do not tint well and are best as polarized lenses.
Step 5: Get precise sunglasses measurements
Before you order your sunglasses, it is important that your optician takes accurate measurements to ensure the lenses are made and placed correctly in the frame.
First, your optician will take a what is known as a PD or pupil distance measurement. This horizontal measurement ensures the optical center of the lens is placed directly in front of your eye.
For stronger prescriptions, digital lenses, and progressives, your optician will also take a height measurement. This vertical measurement determines exactly where you will look through the lens as well as where your intermediate and/or reading area will begin.
Honestly, I’ve found that measurements are as important as your glasses prescription. Without proper measurements, you will probably end up with sunglasses that give you a headache!
Step 6: Make any final fitting adjustments
Much like a custom suit or dress, a few minor alterations are typically necessary to ensure your sunglasses fit you perfectly. They should sit straight and even on your face. Also, the temples lengths should feel secure & comfortable behind your ears.
If your frame has nose pads, they should be angled to perfectly match the curve of your nose. Your optician can also help mitigate any adaptation issues you experience by gently adjusting the wrap or pantoscopic tilt of your frame.
That’s it! Ready to purchase the perfect pair of sunglasses?
Now that you’ve read our ultimate guide to purchasing the perfect pair of sunglasses, you’re fully prepared for your next eyewear adventure! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Good luck and enjoy! 🙂