How to choose sunglasses – the good, the bad and the ugly

As we approach Easter weekend and prepare to welcome the sun back into our lives, now is a good time to look at a few key features of sunglasses that you should consider when investing in summer eyewear.
As well as looking good, sunglasses should protect your eyes against UV rays.The tint of the lens is not the most important factor but the UV protection is and, while every lens will proudly boast that it offers maximum UV protection, you get what you pay for…..most of the time.
If you want to be certain of what you are buying, enlist the help of an optician. 
Most independent opticians carry a wide selection of sunglasses, from the household brands that you recognise, to smaller specialist producers whose name might not be so familiar. Choosing a frame that looks good on you is the easy bit. Getting the right lenses takes an expert.

First rule is that any well made frame, optical or sunglass, can carry your prescription so think about getting prescription sunglasses that you can wear outside through the Spring/Summer season. If you can avoid contact lenses on the beach and the pain of sand getting kicked in your eye by some screaming five year old, prescription sunglasses suddenly seem like a bargain. They can be an expensive investment but anybody who has worn good quality, prescription sunglasses, knows how great they are.
The type of lens and, to an extent, the frame that you need, depends on when you are going to wear them. If you need sunnies for sport, there are plenty of specialistframes to choose from like these Oakley sunnies.


Don’t skimp on lenses – if you are a cyclist for example, cutting out the glare and optimising your peripheral vision is of paramount importance. Polarised lenses will sharpen your vision and reduce glare so are great for usage on the water, snow sports or simply just for clarity when driving.

For most of us, we just want to look good and protect our eyes while we are at it.
If your budget won’t stretch to prescription sun lenses then make sure that you read up on the quality of lens before you buy.
Many of the smaller frame-designers will use a high quality lens such as Zeiss. All Kirk & Kirk sunglasses use Zeiss anti-reflection sunglasses as standard because they offer superb clarity as well as protection. The lens world is full of unfamiliar brands and so many sun lenses are unbranded that, as a consumer, you have little choice but to simply pick them up and try them on. Nevertheless, our old friend Google should be able to tell you how to rate the shades that you are checking out, so read up before you shell out.
Sadly, many of the fashion name brands are simply licensed products so no guarantee of quality……usually quite the opposite.The phrase ‘Designer sunglasses’ is one of those empty soundbites and just tells you that you are paying for the name, rather than the product.

Another great option is to wear Transition lenses, prescription glasses that go darker or lighter according to the conditions. They allow you to slip from the sand to the shops, from the living room to behind the wheel without needing to change your frames. Modern technology offers a range of colours and lens treatments, as well as high speed tint changes according to light conditions. 
Do we have any tips for you?
Of course we do………don’t get trapped into buying label sunglasses. We would always recommend checking out a cool, finger on the pulse, optical boutique where you can get proper advice on the lens that would suit you, as well as the frame.
There is a good list of international stores on our stockist page.
If you cannot get to a decent eyewear specialist, check out a good department store with a range of sunglass options. Test the lenses out by simply putting them on (yep!) and you will soon see the difference in clarity between the various pairs. When you think you have found something that you like, read the reviews online. There is tons of info available. 
Finding a shape that suits you should be the easy bit. Finding a lens that protects you is harder but should be your priority.

 

Amanda in flame from Kirk & Kirk
Sunglasses by Oakley
Max in onyx colourway by Kirk & Kirk

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