Why get prescription sunglasses?
Prescription eyewear is about clear vision, eye care and convenience. When you spend a significant amount of time in harsh light conditions, prescription sunglasses offer a host of benefits.
Firstly, prescription eyewear will help you to see clearly because of the corrective lenses. Secondly, they will protect your eyes by blocking up to 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays and they will enhance the light-filtering capabilities of your eyes. This will also help to protect your eyes against cataracts, retinal dysfunction and UV damage to the eyelids.
Thirdly, when UV protection is added as a lens treatment, your glasses will prevent UV light from bouncing back from reflective surfaces like water, snow, sand and roads. This will increase visibility, reduce eyestrain and protect your eyes.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors or driving during the day, prescription sunglasses are a worthwhile investment. And yes, prescription eyewear can even help in making a fashion statement!
This is what you need to know before setting off to buy prescription sunglasses:
How to choose lenses for sunglasses
- Types of corrective lenses: Prescription sunglasses are available for almost all corrective prescriptions. You can even opt for bifocals and progressive lenses.
- Adding UV protection: UV protection has nothing to do with the colour and density of the tint of your sunglass lenses. UV protection is added to block up to 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays as this will help to protect your eyes against cataracts and retinal dysfunction. All Zeiss lenses however block UV up to 400 nm.
- Adding polarised lens treatments: Polarised lenses help to reduce the glare from water, snow, sand and road surfaces when outdoors.
- Photochromic or transition lenses: Lenses with a photochromic tint, also called transition lenses, have the ability to adjust quickly in changing light conditions to protect your eyes from harsh sunlight. They will automatically darken when exposed to sunlight and then return to clear when indoors. However, there is one drawback – UV rays are required to activate the tint. Because most car windshields block a significant amount of UV rays, photochromic lenses usually do not darken sufficiently inside a car. This problem can be solved by adding clip-on sunglasses to your prescription glasses.
- Adding anti-reflective protection: Anti-reflective coatings keep light from reflecting off the lenses. This allows people to see your eyes more clearly.
How to choose frames for sunglasses
- Take note of the shape and size of the frames: The lenses of prescription sunglasses are usually bigger and more curved compared to the lenses of prescription glasses for indoor use. The bigger or more curved the lenses, the more challenging it becomes to fit these into a specific frame. For example, lenses prescribed for myopia (short-sightedness) often become thicker towards the edges while lenses prescribed for hyperopia (far-sightedness) are difficult to curve. The more curved the lenses are, the more they can become distorted. Prescription lenses are cut from uncut blank lenses and sometimes these lenses are not big enough to fit into sunglass frames. Zeiss manufactures a lens referred to as a “Sport” design that reduces the peripheral distortions significantly.
- Go for full-frame sunglasses: It is best to opt for a full frame when choosing sunglass frames. The frame should go around the lens and not be open at the top or the bottom, although it is possible to have rimless sunglasses. Full-frame sunglasses will make your eyewear more durable, especially when used outdoors. It is best to choose a frame with two separate lenses as prescription lenses cannot be cut into a ‘shield’ or wrap-around’ shape.
What about contact lens wearers?
Contact lens wearers may find prescription sunglasses more practical when they are outdoors where sand, wind, dust and water can irritate their contact lenses. It is not advisable to swim with contact lenses because of the possibility of eye infections caused by microorganisms in the water. This is where prescription sunglasses can come in handy.
Will your medical aid pay for your sunglasses?
Certain medical aid schemes do pay for prescription sunglasses. However, most medical aids regard sunglasses as cosmetic and not as clinically necessary. Hence, they will not pay for your sunglasses even though they have been fitted with prescription lenses. Certain medical aids will pay for the sunglass lenses but not the frame. It is best to contact your medical aid to find out what they cover in terms of prescription sunglasses.
Ask your optometrist
Before deciding on lenses, lens treatments and a frame for your prescription sunglasses, consult your optometrist. This will help to ensure a worthwhile investment and practical prescription sunglasses.