Made in the shades
Question: Is it possible to put on a pair of sunglasses and not feel just a little cooler? Answer: No. But Dr. Blaine Zieman, an optometrist at MeritCare and president of the North Dakota Optometric Association, says shades aren't just a fashion ...
Question: Is it possible to put on a pair of sunglasses and not feel just a little cooler?
But Dr. Blaine Zieman, an optometrist at MeritCare and president of the North Dakota Optometric Association, says shades aren't just a fashion accessory. They also serve a health function.
"There are definitely health issues that we've become aware of," he says.
In the short term, a person can actually get a sunburn on the surface layers of the eyes, which, though not permanent, is unpleasant.
But there are more serious issues. Zieman says UV exposure is probably an issue for cataract development, and a recent study suggests that UV exposure may contribute to macular degeneration.
This means that sunglasses are both cool and good for you. Here are some tips to help you pick a pair that are safe and, of course, hip. Safety first:
Zieman says the most important thing is UV blocking. The American Optometric Association advises looking for shades that block at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B light. Of course, Dr. Zieman says the "absolute best would be 100 percent."
Don't forget the kids
It's important to protect children's eyes, as well. "More than half of a lifetime's sun exposure usually happens during childhood," according to the Web site of Dr. Alan Greene, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. For kids, Zieman recommends polycarbonate lenses, which are impact resistant.
On the road
If you're going to be using them for driving, the AOA recommends a gray tint for proper recognition of traffic signal colors.
Check to see that the lenses are uniformly tinted - i.e. the tinting shouldn't be lighter in one area than another, say the folks at the AOA. And gradient lenses should gradually darken from bottom to top.
That's a wrap
Sunglasses that fit more tightly and wrap around the sides can protect the wearer from wind, dust and debris, Zieman says.
Of course, some want to make a fashion statement too. Here are some tips to do just that.
What would Tom Cruise and his fellow jet jockeys in "Top Gun" have been without their cold-as-ice aviator sunglasses? About half as cool.
Melissa McCulley, optometrist and owner of McCulley Optix Gallery in Fargo, says aviator shades are hot right now. The classic shape of the lens is a teardrop, but they can have a bit of an edge to them too. They typically sport metal frames and have a double bar at the bridge.
More is more
Big is in. That includes both the lenses of the glasses and the wide sections at the temples. If you're feeling extra daring, you might want to try a trendy logo or decoration on the side. McCulley says the wide side pieces do serve the function of providing coverage from the sun. Optometrists disagree on whether a trendy brand name at one's temples helps fight sun damage.
Shade like an athlete
Sport sunglasses are also popular, McCulley says. They have wrap-around lenses that don't block peripheral vision, they tend not to slip off and are lightweight and comfortable.
In living colors
Tortoise, with its blending light and dark browns, and black "never go out of style," McCulley says. And white is "one of the 'in' colors in sunglasses this year."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734