Designer Sunglasses – A Stylish Luxury Or A Healthy Choice?

Motives for undergoing Laser Eye Surgery vary enormously  – there are probably almost as many reasons  as there are London Vision Clinic patients.

I have listened to post operative excitement at the prospect of learning to ride a motorbike (helmets and glasses are not a comfortable combination); while a love of water sports are another popular reason. Less energetic pastimes like embroidery and the convenience of being able to read menus, also frequently contribute to the desire to be glasses-free.

Everybody has a long list of personal advantages; while for many women –up there at the top of the post surgery “to do” list – is splashing out on some extra special sunglasses.

Being something of an accessories fan  (alongside an impressive shoe collection and enough scarves to open a bazaar), I also have a rather fine collection of sunglasses which have outings depending on the occasion and what I am wearing. I suspect that like a lot of people, I shop for sunglasses according to their frames and the way they make me feel. I confess that I rarely read the small print on the label .


“The sun, and specifically its UV rays, is one of the biggest potential harming factors for our eyes”, explains London Vision Clinic optometrist, Vimal Piparia. “Everyone should wear sunglasses with good UV protection.”

When choosing our sunglasses, a good ultra violet protection is essential, they should also carry the CE stamp of European standard approval; however darker is not necessarily better.

“Although darker lenses will affect the contrast and glare, they will not necessarily provide higher UV protection. Lighter coloured lenses, despite having less brightness filtration, can be just as beneficial in protecting the back of the eye against sun damage”, Vimal told me.

However, the colour of our eyes, will probably play a large part in deciding the degree of darkness that is comfortable. Lighter coloured eyes tend to be more sensitive to sunlight – light blue eyes, for instance, have less pigment than dark brown eyes and therefore have less ability to block out bright sunlight.

“With age, cataracts and macular degeneration can occur”, explains Vimal. “There is some evidence to suggest that these conditions might be accelerated by sun damage to the eyes.”

More visual sun problems to the eyes include ptygerium, also known as “Surfer’s Eye”. These small white growths  appear on the front of the eye  and are caused by over exposure to UV light and commonly found on people who spend a lot of the time near to or on the sea. They are not removed unless they encroach on the cornea and affect vision.

So, is there an excuse, or a good medical reason, to buy expensive sunglasses?


Vimal answers: “Potentially the quality of the lenses might be better. Issues with distortion and light contrast that might be an issue for people wearing them for sport.

“Both cheap and expensive the lenses should offer an equal level of protection, if the categories given are the same”,

Although it might be relatively straightforward to measure the protection offered by our favourite sunglasses; the sense of joy and the feel good factor we get from slipping on our favourite stylish designer shades, is not as easy to calculate.