Everything you need to know about the best sunglasses for UV protection

Everyone loves a fashionable pair of sunglasses, but did you know they also act as a shield to protect your eyes? The sun’s harmful UV rays can have a serious impact on vision in the short and long term, from increasing the likelihood of developing sight-threatening eye conditions to developing skin cancer around the eyes. So, how do you protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, and what are the best sunglasses for UV protection?

What are UV rays?

UV rays are emitted from the sun. They are categorized as either UVA, UVB, or UVC. UVC rays are blocked by the ozone layer, so generally don’t affect you. However, UVA and UVB rays can both reach your eyes. UVA rays can penetrate your eyes, reaching the back of the eye where the retina and the macula are. UVB rays are absorbed by the front surface of your eyes, where your cornea and natural lens are.

What eye problems are caused by UV rays?

There are several vision problems that can develop from prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

  • Pinguecula – this harmless yellow growth on the eye is caused by UVB rays and is a fleshy tissue that covers the thin membrane on your eye called the conjunctiva. These can develop at any age and are often associated with prolonged time out in the sun.
  • Snow blindness: When the light reflects off snow or water, you can develop photokeratitis on account of UVB rays, which is a temporary, but painful condition that’s essentially like having sunburnt eyes.
  • Cataracts and macular degeneration – continuous UV exposure over time builds up the level of UVA damage and contributes towards the development of these serious eye conditions, usually after the age of 60 which both cause sight loss if left untreated.
  • Skin cancer – this is also an issue that can arise from overexposure to UV rays, affecting your eyelids and any other delicate skin around your eyes.

How to protect your eyes from UV damage


The first line of defense to protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear high quality sunglasses with UV protection. This goes for adults and children – in fact, the earlier you can get your kids to wear sunglasses, the more protected their eyes will be as they have naturally larger pupils and clearers lenses than adults, which means more UV rays can enter and cause permanent damage.

It’s also important to choose a frame that fully covers your eyes, so they’re adequately shielded. For maximum coverage, we recommend styles that wrap around the sides of your face for protection from all angles.

Other things you can do to help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays include:

  • Wearing a hat to help block the sun’s rays from reaching your eyes. Remember, clouds do not block UV rays, so wear a hat and sunglasses even when it’s slightly overcast.
  • Avoid the sun when its rays are the strongest during the day.
  • Sit in the shade if you’re spending time outside if possible to limit how much time you’re in direct sunlight for.

Which types of lenses offer the best sun protection?

There is a wide range of 100% UV protection sunglasses with different lens options available to protect your eyes from UV rays.


  • Plano: These are non-prescription sunglass lenses which offer full UV protection. They can be worn on top of contact lenses if you wear them for vision correction too.
  • Prescription sunglasses: These are made up with your prescription and offer full UV protection.
  • Polarized: People who love the outdoors will enjoy wearing polarized lenses. Not only will you be protected from UV, but you’ll also benefit from glare free vision, enhanced color contrast, and more clarity. They are a great choice for people who enjoy fishing, golfing or water sports, as this is where people most experienced glare reflected off flat surfaces.
  • Polarized Mirrors: These lenses offer the same great UV and glare protection as polarized lenses while coming in a wide range of stylish mirror tint options.
  • Transitions Lenses: If you spend a lot of time moving between the indoors and outdoors, then Transitions may be right for you. These lenses adapt to the light conditions around you, meaning that they go darker when you move into the sun and lighter when you go back indoors.

How do I get the right sunglass lenses for my needs?

Replacement Lens Express makes finding the right sunglasses with UV protection easy. We have a huge assortment of sunglasses lens options that we can fit into your existing frames. We also offer a great selection of stylish sunglasses frames from top designers like Burberry, Dolce and Gabbana and Ray Ban if you’re looking for new frames to pair with your sunglass lenses too.