Checklist: What makes a good pair of sunglasses?

girl deciding between two pairs of sunglasses

A decent pair of sunglasses is an investment. When shopping for new shades, it’s important to consider their level of UV protection, frame shape, cost, brand and more. Additionally, you can consider whether or not you want your sunglasses to be traditional, clip-on or prescription.

Consider this a five-point checklist — factors you should consider — when you're buying your next pair of sunglasses:

1. UV protection

You may wear sunglasses to get relief from the sun or even to boost your overall fashion statement. But that’s not all they’re good for — a good pair of sunglasses should offer 100% UV protection. The sun isn’t just bright; it emits UV rays which can be harmful to your eyes.

The best level of UV protection is UV 400, which provides 100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Not every pair of sunglasses offers the same level of UV protection, so it’s important to look for a label that boosts that maximum level of UV protection when shopping for a new pair of shades.

If your sunglasses don’t offer total protection, you’re basically just paying for vanity.

2. Cost

Maximum UV protection may sound expensive, but it won’t necessarily push the price of new shades higher. Cost for sunglasses depends on a number of factors, including brand name, frame style popularity (e.g., wayfarers, cat-eyes or aviators), frame and lens material, and lens coatings (such as anti-glare or scratch resistance).

It’s possible to get a good deal if you know where to look. Some online retailers offer premium brands at discounted rates, while others create their own lower-priced sunglass styles.

SEE RELATED: Do cheap sunglasses protect your eyes as well as the expensive brands?

3. Brand

There’s a reason certain brand names are more popular than others. If a company has been in business for a while and their customers have come to know and trust them, then you can rest assured that the products they offer are timeless, durable and well-liked.

Brand is a factor because if you’re making an investment in your new sunglasses, you want to make sure they’ll last a while and that you’ll feel good in them.

4. Style

The popularity of the frame is something to consider when investing in a new pair of sunglasses. If you want your sunglasses to stick around for a while, you’ll want to choose a timeless style.

If you want the pair you’re purchasing to be your primary sunglasses (or your only pair of sunglasses), you’ll want to make sure the style is versatile enough to match anything, whether you’re on your way to the office or laying out on the beach.

5. Type

Wearing glasses doesn’t have the stigma it once did. Glasses come in many different shapes and sizes and are now seen as stylish accessories. New technology allows “coke-bottle” lenses to be slimmer, avoiding the distortion thicker lenses once had on the eyes. But wearing glasses can still be a nuisance at times, particularly when you go out into the sun.

Sunglasses, which maintain your vision and protect your eyes from sun damage, come in several varieties:

PRESCRIPTION SUNGLASSES: If you’d rather wear glasses than contact lenses, prescription sunglasses may be right for you. Even if you have a powerful prescription that affects the thickness of your lenses, you can still reap the benefits of prescription sunglasses.

CLIP-ON SUNGLASSES: If you don’t want to trade your regular glasses for prescription sunglasses, you might consider clip-on sunglasses. Clip-ons have as much variability in style as eyeglasses, which means finding a pair to match your current frames will be easy.

Some clip-ons come as part of a magnetic set that you can attach to your glasses and remove with ease. So, if you’re in the market for new glasses and sunglasses, a set of clip-ons might be just what you’re looking for.

NON-PRESCRIPTION SUNGLASSES FOR CONTACT LENS WEARERS: If you like wearing contact lenses, traditional (non-prescription) sunglasses are your best option. Some of the most stylish, popular and durable brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley and Persol.

READY TO BUY PRESCRIPTION SUNGLASSES? Find an optical store near you or shop online.

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