Before returning to academia, I spent 15 years in the sunglasses industry, most recently as Head of Sales & Development at Red Eyewear Ltd.
When people find out I worked in sunglasses design and production they always ask me the same questions, so I thought I’d answer them here!
Do darker lenses offer more UV protection? Nope. The darkness of the lenses has nothing to do with protection, it’s just for the comfort of your eyes in bright conditions. Polycarbonate (PC) lenses inherently block out 100% of UV rays, and acrylic (AC) lenses will have a clear UV coating. So even totally clear lenses offer 100% UV protection. Filter category 3 (FC3) lenses are best for sunny weather or holidays.
Is it worth spending the money on designer brands? Designer frames are likely to be made from superior lens and frame materials. Handmade acetate frames feel nice and weighty, and they really are made by hand. They will probably last longer, but part of that is the fact that we look after expensive sunglasses much better than our cheap versions. Whatever you buy, look out for 100% UV protection or UV400, the CE mark, and a ticket that says they comply to the international sunglasses standard ISO 12312-2:2015.
Sunglasses don’t suit me! You’re not alone, everyone feels like that. I can’t help with this one, but if you’re in London I recommend 36 Opticians. Do wear sunglasses though, it’s just as important to wear sunglasses as it is to wear sunscreen.