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AX Armani Exchange Oversized Sunglasses
AX Armani Exchange Oversized Sunglasses

How to Buy Sunglasses

With all the talk about SPF in recent years, you may have forgotten that UV rays can harm more than your skin. Looking stylish while protecting you peepers is a summer's breeze with these tips. Get ready for a walk on the sunny side of the street!

The Basics

Step 1Lighten up!: The darkness of the lenses has nothing to do with how well they protect your eyes, so be sure you get a pair that allows you to see clearly.
Step 2Make sure you're covered: UV protection isn't just for your skin. In order to be truly helpful, sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labeled as "UV 400," which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes all UVA and UVB rays). Color your world: You can find lenses in every color of the rainbow. Amber, gray and green are best for everyday use as they don't distort colors. Yellow and orange heighten contrast in overcast, hazy, low-light conditions; rose and red lenses heighten contrast in partly cloudy and sunny conditions, but can cause color imbalances. Blue lenses increase glare and are not recommended.
Step 3Special features: Some sunglasses have additional features such as extreme impact resistance (good for sports), gradient tinting (good for driving) or photochromic coating (good for those who wear prescription glasses). Shop around if you'll be using your sunglasses in harsh or special conditions.

The Lingo

Blue Blocking: Blue blocking describes amber-colored lenses that protect eyes from visible blue light. The American Academy of Ophthalmology believes this light may damage the retina and could increase risk of eye damage from diseases such as macular degeneration. Amber-colored lenses can also heighten contrast and are popular among skiers, hunters, boaters and pilots.
Gradient / Double Gradient: These lenses are shaded from top to bottom (or, in double gradient sunglasses, from top and bottom toward the middle). Single gradient lenses cut glare from the sky but allow you to see clearly below, which makes them good for driving but less useful on the slopes or at the beach. Double-gradient lenses can be better for sports where light reflects up off the water or snow, such as sailing or skiing.
Impact Resistant: All sunglasses must meet minimum FDA standards regarding impact resistance, but items with this label can withstand a higher degree of impact. Plastic lenses are less likely to shatter than glass lenses, and polycarbonate plastic (used in many sports sunglasses) is even more impact resistant but scratches easily. No lens is totally shatterproof.
Mirror Coatings: Also called flash coatings, these are reflective coatings applied to the front of the lens that reduces the amount of light entering the eye.
Photochromic: This is a type of lens that darkens in bright light and becomes lighter in low light. Photochromic lenses may or may not have good UV-absorption (the label will specify) and it can take a few minutes for them to adjust to different light conditions.
Polarized: Polarized lenses reduce glare, so they're good for driving, skiing or boating.
Tint: This is the shade of the lens. Tint does not affect UV protection and is largely a matter of preference. Green, gray and brown distort colors least.
UV Protection: This indicates what percentage of UV light is blocked by that pair of

The Experts

Women's Health Magazine has said this about the 7eye Zephyr "If you equate an open road with the sun in your face and some dirt in your eye, you're in for a nice surprise. These curvy glasses block 75 percent of wind and glare, hugging even the smallest of heads to obstruct random debris."
InStyle Magazine has said this of Victoria's Secret Ombre Sunglasses "These vibrant ombre shades will brighten any outfit."
Runners World Magazine has said this about Ryders Endorphin Polarized "The Endorphin offers several features that usually come with a much bigger price tag. They have polarized lenses that significantly cut the glare reflected off horizontal surfaces, and are only a hair less sharp than the ones found in sunglasses at twice the price. Plus, the nonslipping bridge and fog-fighting vents really work."

The Brands

Bolle Bolle offers high-quality sport and recreational sunglasses. They make a variety of lens and frame types including sport-specific sunglasses, goggles and prescription sunglasses
Oakley A sport-sunglasses company known for its signature frame style in addition to the strength of their lenses and frames, they manufacture for brands including Eye Safety Systems, Fox Racing, Mosley Tribes, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, and Paul Smith Spectacles.
Ray Ban Best known for their Aviator and Wayfarer frames, Ray Ban has been producing sunglasses since 1937. They offer a variety of frames, tints and technologies with UV protection.
UrbanSpecs A line of very affordable sunglasses, all of which offer 100% UV protection

The Price

$: UrbanSpecs Betsy $12.99
$$: UrbanSpecs Classics Aero $12.99
$$$: Dockers Cat Eye Sunglasses $15.60
$$$$: Ryders Eyewear Amber $28
$$$$$: AX Armani Exchange Oversized Sunglasses $65
$$$$$$: Miss Sixty Women's MX249SW $56
$$$$$$$: Ralph Lauren Sunglasses $99.95
$$$$$$$$: 7Eye Gale $119.99
$$$$$$$$$: MICHELE 'Lagoon' Aviator Sunglasses $128