What Are UV Protection Glasses? Plus How to Choose Yours

There’s nothing better than being outside on a gorgeous sunny day. Yet that sun can take a toll on your eyes — sometimes immediately but often many years later. Luckily, taking care of your eye health in the sun can be as simple as wearing UV protection glasses whenever you’re outside.

Let’s talk about UV light and how it can damage your eyes. Then, we’ll look at some types of protective eyewear that can help maintain your eye health and take your style up a notch while you’re at it.

What Is UV Light?

Ultraviolet light (UV light) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that primarily radiates from the sun. It falls between the wavelengths of visible light and X-rays, and while humans can’t see it, some insects can.

UV light is made up of three different bands of UV rays:

  • UVA: 315-400 nanometers

  • UVB: 280-315 nanometers

  • UVC: 100-280 nanometers

UVC rays are absorbed by the earth's upper atmosphere. Only UVA and UVB rays reach the ground, but they can do a lot of damage.

You probably already know that ultraviolet radiation contributes to wrinkles. It can also cause other types of damage, like photokeratitis — or sunburned corneas. This can make your eyes feel gritty and puffy with a red, teary appearance.

On a more extreme note, UV radiation can cause skin cancer and serious eye diseases like ocular melanoma, which is cancer of the eye. It can also lead to macular degeneration, which attacks the retina, and cataracts, which affect the lens of the eye.

What Are UV Protection Glasses?

Boy wearing a pair of UV protection glasses

Just as you wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn, UV glasses provide excellent eye protection from harmful UV rays. Some types come with a lens coating that absorbs UV light. However, there’s no need for extra UV coating if the lenses are made from polycarbonate because the material serves as a natural UV filter.

UV protection glasses help you maintain good vision for as long as possible. As a bonus, they also reduce glare so that you don’t have to squint to see in bright light.

Many sunglasses offer UV protection, and because a small amount of UV light also comes from other sources, like tanning beds, lasers, and welding equipment, you’ll also find that protection included in some wraparound safety glasses.

But how can you tell if a pair of glasses offers UV protection? 

If you’re in a brick-and-mortar shop, look out for a sticker on the glasses — and if you’re buying online, check the retailer’s or manufacturer’s description. 

You’re looking for 99-100% UVA and UVB protection. This level of protection is also sometimes described as UV400 protection. The 400 refers to the fact that it blocks wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, the highest wavelength of UV light.

What’s the Difference Between Polarized Sunglasses and UV Protection Glasses?

It’s important to note that polarized lenses and UV-protected lenses are not the same thing. They have completely different purposes.

Polarized glasses are designed to filter and reduce the glare reflecting off flat surfaces, like water, snow, and the buildings around you. UV protection glasses absorb UV rays, preventing them from reaching your eyes.

On a side note, UV rays reflect off flat surfaces even when it’s not sunny. So, wearing your UV protection glasses whenever you’re outside is a good idea, regardless of the weather.

Many UV protection glasses are also polarized, but it’s worth checking the fine print to make sure. A dark tint doesn’t guarantee UV protection. 

3 Types of UV Protection Eyeglasses

Pretty woman holding a pair of eyeglasses

Pair Eyewear offers three different kinds of eyeglasses with UV protection lenses. They’re all polarized and offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. The polycarbonate lenses are impact-resistant and scratch-resistant and designed to withstand daily wear and tear.

To decide which type is best for you, consider your lifestyle, budget, and what look you want.

Let’s explore your choices.

Sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses is the most common type of UV protection glasses. Traditional sunglass lenses are permanently shaded and come in several different colors.

Pros: Sunglasses are available in pretty dark shades and provide excellent glare protection, especially when polarized. They’re ideal if you’re occasionally out in bright sunlight for extended periods, for example, heading to the beach, seeing a ball game, or driving on a hot, sunny day. 

Cons: You must carry them with you to have them when needed. We recommend investing in a protective Glasses Case to keep them safe when you’re not wearing them.

To order sunglasses from Pair Eyewear:

  1. Choose your Base Frame shape and color from the relevant Sunglasses page for Women, Men, or Kids

  2. Select from our range of lens colors, including black, brown, or green tinted lenses or silver, pink, blue, or green reflective lenses.

  3. If you don’t need vision correction, pick the non-prescription option on the Prescription Type page. Otherwise, choose from single-vision or progressive prescription glasses or magnifying readers.

Cost: Pair sunglasses start from $60, including your prescription.

Customizable Light-Responsive Lenses

Light-responsive lenses, also known as transition or photochromic lenses, respond to UV light, changing from clear lenses to tinted ones. If you’re indoors or outside on a cloudy day, they stay clear or very lightly tinted, but the tint darkens when exposed to UV light, depending on the intensity of the light. 

This type of UV protection glasses seldom get as dark as traditional sunglasses but still provide excellent protection from the sun.

Pros: Light-responsive lenses work well if you often move between indoor and outdoor spaces during your day and only want one pair of glasses. For example, perhaps you work at a garden center or are a schoolteacher who’s often on playground duty.

Cons: Transition lenses can respond slowly when changing from dark to clear. Also, they aren’t ideal for driving since many windshields block UV rays. As a result, your transition lenses may not darken as much as you’d like while you’re on the road.

To order Light Responsive Glasses from Pair Eyewear:

  1. Begin by choosing your Base Frame from the selection of regular glasses for Women, Men, or Kids

  2. Select your style, color, and prescription type.

  3. Customize your lenses on the Lens Upgrade page. You’ll see Blue-Light Filtering and Premium Plus Lenses there, too, but you’ll want the Light-Responsive option.

Cost: Pair Light Responsive Lenses start at $209 (the cost of your regular glasses + $149).

Sun Tops

The Galaxy Sun Top

Sun Tops form part of Pair’s extensive range of gorgeous and unique Top Frames. They’re designed to fit your choice of Base Frames exactly. Top Frames are magnetic, so you can simply click them on, changing the look of your regular glasses or turning them into sunglasses in seconds.

Pros: You don’t have to carry an extra pair of sunglasses. Top Frames are light and easy to pop on when you quickly need sun protection. They also instantly give you a whole new look.

Cons: You need to carry your Sun Tops with you. A Top Frame case is an easy way to keep them safe and to store a couple of Top Frame options, so you always have a choice of designs for a quick change.

To order Sun Tops from Pair Eyewear:

  1. Start by choosing a Base Frame from one of the regular glasses ranges. 

  2. Select your frame color, prescription type, and any lens customizations. 

  3. Choose one or more pairs of Sun Tops instead of — or as well as — regular Top Frames before you checkout. 

Cost: Regular Top Frames start from $25, and Sun Tops start from $30.

If you’re unsure about anything Pair-related, consult our FAQ page or email us directly at [email protected].

Shield Your Eyes From the Sun With UV Protection Glasses

Being outdoors on a warm day can be wonderful, but ultraviolet radiation can also cause serious damage to your eyes. Your vision is an essential element of your quality of life, and some simple eye care today can make a world of difference to your eye health later.

UV protection glasses prevent harmful UV rays from reaching your eyes, reducing sun damage and helping you see better when it’s bright.

Choose your UV protection glasses from Pair Eyewear’s range of sunglasses, transition lenses, or Sun Tops. With 100% UV protection plus polarization at great prices, sunny days never looked so good.