How to find cool sunglasses
If you live in a sunny state, then some good sunglasses will be nothing short of a necessity throughout the year. This is not to say that people from gloomier climates shouldn’t look towards these as fashion accessories or as something to safeguard against snow blindness and that low hanging sun which has a habit of always aiming its rays toward our bright blue eyes.
Sunglasses, as we know them today, have been around since the 18th century, while tinted lenses were used in one way or another from much earlier than that. Needless to say, this gave “them” a lot of time to branch out into various shapes, sizes, with differently tinted lenses, covering nearly all different colors of the spectrum.
With so much variety out there, finding the best sunglasses for our particular needs can become quite a bit of a chore. In regards to style, this mostly falls down to our personal taste, while also accounting for face shape and the rest of our wardrobe. Of course, there’s also the safe option of just falling back to a tried and true classical style, like the aviators or police glasses for men, and 60s pointy framed cat glasses for women.
How we chose the coolest sunglasses
The title of this section might be a little misleading, as we believe that what is found to be “cool” mostly comes down to regional or sub-cultural norms. However, no matter if one is a hipster or a country boy, the technical aspects to have in mind when looking for some quality sunglasses from whatever may be available for sale will be the same.
Much has been said about the danger of UV rays and a lot of it bears repeating. Like most any other part of your body, your retina can develop cancer, and UVB radiation, which is most intense during the summer months between 10 am and 4 pm, is a primary cause for it.
Furthermore, both UVB and UVA rays, the latter of which are less intense but prevalent throughout the year, can cause macular degeneration, which makes you lose your sight faster with age. Needless to say, look through sunglasses reviews for a pair that has a 100% UV protection factor, as the best shades tend to do.
Since they aren’t after a pair of excellent men’s reading glasses or anything which should perfectly fit the eye focal point, most people, especially men, are tempted to ignore the sunglasses dimensions when buying online.
Some aspects of optics might be redundant in an item with straight lenses, but this doesn’t mean that the frame of the glasses shouldn’t fit the user’s face. There are generally 3 measurements indicated by the manufacturer, from which you can tell if the pair will fit you well or not.
Eye size refers to the distance between the outside edge and the inside edge of the lens, which is strongly corroborated to the edges width. This goes from 40 mm, which will fit narrow faces, to 62 mm for the widest faces.
The bridge size is a measurement of the small area that connects the lenses, just above where the glasses rest on the nose. This typically goes between 14 and 24 mm. The “temple piece” is the technical term for the arms of the frame. The usual range is between 120 and 150 mm.
Frame and lens material
Metal frames do give the impression of higher quality and can be made a lot thinner, but they can bend easily if anything else than tempered steel is used or if they aren’t shaped into the appropriate cross section.
Nylon handles a lot better under stress and can resist well to temperature fluctuations and might be the best choice for those who are after a pair of cheap sunglasses for sports and other outdoor activities.
On the pricier side of things there’s titanium, which doesn’t really offer any downsides in regards to performance, and polycarbonate, which is also very resilient but a lot more rigid. Different types of polycarbonate material can also be used for the lenses, as it offers an adequate level of optical clarity, while also being around 50 times stronger than optical glass.
The lens materials which allow for the best vision clarity are optical glass and NXT Polyurethane. The first can be ground and polished to perfection so it might come at quite a bit of cost, but it’s virtually scratch-proof and quite durable for everyday activities. It will shatter under stress however, so if you’re a sports fan, there’s really no other top-end choice than NXT.
Lenses made of NXT material, more specifically Trivex, combine all the advantages of optical glass and polycarbonate, meaning they offer a nearly perfect level of vision clarity in a highly impact resistant frame.
At the opposite end of the price range there’s acrylic, which is mainly used in fashion or children’s glasses and performs as expected. This can be combined with a cheap metal or even a plastic frame.
Tint and coating
If preserving color accuracy is especially important, than gray or green tinted lenses will handle best. These can range in the level of shade provided quite a bit, with darker ones being the best at reducing glare and eye strain in bright situation, with only minimal color inaccuracy.
Brown tints give the wearer increased contrast and depth perception by cutting out on the earthy hues. Naturally, this will distort color, which will happen to a lesser extent in the case of yellow, gold or amber lenses. These lighter ones are considered to be the best for improving vision, but this comes at the expense of brightness protection.
Like other “colored” tints, pink lenses will act more in improving visual clarity than providing shade. These are all good for low contrast conditions, like those brought upon by snow or an overcast sky.
Applying a mirrored coating is a great way to reduce glare and brightness. Objects will appear significantly darker than they actually are, so this is generally combined with lighter tints, mostly in grayscale to preserve true color.