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Breeze through summer with the proper sunglasses

Summer is half over, but it’s not too late to replace those cheap sunglasses you’ve been wearing since Memorial Day with a pair that actually protects your eyes.

Always-sunny Southern Nevada is, after all, a year-around sunglasses-wearing locale. So what should you look for in a pair of sunglasses?

Begin, says Diane Hanson, a certified optician at Shepherd Eye Center, with getting a pair with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are designed to filter out glare and reflected sunlight — the kind you get from, say, the surface of water while fishing or water skiing and the metal of oncoming cars — and offer greater “clarity of vision” and truer color perception than nonpolarized lenses, Hanson says.

Sunglasses that have polarized lenses also are more likely to offer protection from ultraviolet rays, Hanson says. That’s important because exposure to UV rays can harm the eye’s lens and cornea and contribute to such conditions as cataracts and macular degeneration.

So, Hanson says, opt for polarized lenses, and always make sure that any pair of sunglasses is labeled as offering full protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Now it’s time to select a lens color. Sunglass lenses come in several of them, and Hanson says most people opt for gray lenses, which are “kind of all-purpose” lenses that can improve color perception on sunny days and help to reduce eye fatigue. Polarized gray lenses also are great for looking into water, which makes them a favorite of fishermen.

After gray, the next most popular lenses are “polarized brown” lenses, Hanson says, which are good for water sports and help to keep colors “nice and true.” Both gray and brown lenses also are solid choices for driving.

Then, make sure the lenses you choose are well-made. A lens material such as polycarbonate offers a mix of light weight and protection for both adults and kids, Hanson says, and choose sunglasses that will protect as much of your eye, the skin that surrounds your eye and your upper cheek as possible.

“I think when we look at frame type, a person’s prescription has a lot to do with that,” Hanson notes. But sunglasses can be made relatively light and yet offer good protection to the eyes, eyelids and skin around the eye even for those who must wear thicker prescription lenses.

Finally, choose a pair of sunglasses that are both comfortable to wear and appealing to look at so that you’ll have an incentive to wear them whenever you’re outside.

“People want to look good and want to feel good, and that’s important,” Hanson says.

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