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Ask the Doctor – Choosing Sunglasses: Understanding Tint Colors and UV Protection

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Dr. Taylor

With summer holidays coming, I plan to shop for a new pair of sunglasses soon. I was wondering: what is the difference between the tints, besides personal taste? Do all colours give the same protection from ultraviolet radiation? There are so many choices.

Answer: Good questions! How dark the lens is, or the colour of it, does not determine how much ultraviolet protection you receive, but does control both the amount and which wavelengths of visible light are allowed through the lens to the photoreceptors in your eye. Beyond the necessary UV protection, selecting the right sunglass tint partly comes down to preference and fashion. However, there are functional differences between tint colours that are worth considering when you are choosing new shades. 

There are as many varieties of sunglass tints on the market as there are colours in the rainbow but let’s talk about the most common ones: grey, green, brown and rose. The most popular sunglass colour is grey. This tint is the most neutral for colour perception and often feels the darkest. It is an excellent choice for bright sun if you are especially light-sensitive or spend time in the tropics, desert, high alpine or high seas. Green has many properties similar to grey but filters some blue light, giving crisp contrast enhancement. This tint first became famous when Ray-Ban used this colour in their iconic aviator style and it is still popular today for reasons of fashion as well as function. Brown or amber lenses offer an even higher-contrast effect and work well under variable light such as trail activities or driving in hazy or overcast conditions. The blue-light filtering properties of a brown lens is also a great protective feature, giving it a healthy edge among eye doctors. Many people enjoy a rosy tint for similar reasons, and seem to find this colour mood-boosting and relaxing for long wear. There is a reason for the saying,“ seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses.” 

Some tints might be better than others for certain eye conditions as well, and it’s worth a conversation with your eye doctor to see what they might recommend for you. But whatever colour lenses you end up choosing for your unique eye health needs, lifestyle, and taste, be sure to keep those glasses in a case when they are not being worn. Scratched lenses will dampen a sunny mood in no time!

At Mayfair Optometric Clinic we provide a welcoming environment for patients to receive eye exams and pick out the perfect eyewear that works for each individual.

Please give us a call to book your appointment with Dr. Peddle or myself.

Written by Mayfair Optometric Clinic

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