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Experts Suggest Function Over Fashion When It Comes to Sunglasses

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You may not wear your sunglasses at night, but when you do put them on, are they actually protecting your eyes? NY1's latest Healthy Living report tells you why you should look for function over fashion when it comes to your shades. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

They may be fashionable, but are your sunglasses functional? When shopping for shades, many people lose sight of the fact that sunglasses are your eyes' best defense from the sun.

"The sunlight can do a lot of things," says Dr. Christopher Starr, an ophthalmologist at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "It can cause skin tumors around the eye. It can cause growths on the surface of the eye called pterygium or pinguecula. It can cause a sunburn to the cornea called photokeratitis, and it's also implicated in cataract formation and macular degeneration, and maybe amongst the worst things that it can do are intraocular tumors such as melanoma."

So what should we look for? Starr says the key is in the lenses. It doesn't matter if you spend $10 or $1,000 on glasses. You just need to make sure the UVA and UVB rays are blocked. Look for a sticker that says 100 percent UV blocked or UV400. This way, you know those lenses are safe.

The color doesn't matter as much.

"Color is usually more of a preference issue. The darker tints, browns, grays, greens even, are usually ideal for most circumstances. They block out usually about between 85 and 90 percent of the transmissible light," Starr says. "Lighter-colored glasses are fine, too. They're going to be a little brighter. More light will get through, but they do block the UV radiation, which is the most important."

Polarized or mirrored lenses are great if you're looking to reduce glare.

As for the frames, he says bigger is better. Look for frames that are bigger than your eye area and that are wide on the sides to prevent too much light from getting in.

Make sure your kids are protected as well.

"Infants in particular, but even young kids, really, they don't block the sun as well as adults do, and so it's even more important for young kids to wear sunglasses," Starr says. "And in addition to sunglasses, I usually recommend a cap with a brim to block as much sun as possible from their faces."

So before you head out for some fun in the sun, don’t forget to focus on safety first. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP