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Sunglasses are often a holiday must-have, but what you might not realize when picking up any old pair off the rack, is that the quality of your eye-wear is absolutely essential.

Of course a good pair of sunglasses will have sex appeal, but what’s even more attractive are the health benefits they bring. Sunburn of the eyes is a real thing, and it’s PAINFUL!

We rely on our vision more than any other sense so it’s essential that we protect ourselves. Travel has a way of putting us in environments that can be harsh on the eyes, so sunglasses are vital for making sure you can continue to see the world with clarity.

So yes, buy based of fashion trends (the top fashion trend at the moment are aviators – we recommend Eye Buy Direct, who have a great range of aviator sunglasses), but when you do, make sure you also tick these boxes.

How to Pick the Perfect Eyewear for Your Summer Vacation

UV Protection

Sunglasses Pool Female Woman TRaveler Girl RF

UV protection is a must when choosing a pair of sunglasses, especially if the purpose of your buy is to specifically wear them on your summer vacation.

We all know the importance of applying sunscreen, but our eyes are particularly susceptible to sun damage, especially light-colored eyes. Long hours in the sun or the reflecting rays of a lake, beach, or the pavement can all lead to some nasty eye complications.

UV protection ranges from 0-4 with 4 being the highest, so these will be the best glasses protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses with good UV protection protect against eye strain as well as eye diseases such as cataracts.

Pro tip: Aim for a UV category 3 lens, for protection against strong sunlight. UV Category 4 lenses let in a lot less UV light, but are the darkest lenses available, so should only be used in extremely sunny conditions, and they are not suitable for driving.

Damage to the eyes from UV radiation is cumulative, meaning it builds up over our lifetime and can have a permanent effect on our eyes and eyesight. So while you may not feel short term effects of UV damage, you may develop more serious, long term problems over time.

Furthermore, the skin around your eyes tends to be very sensitive, and so it is important to protect it. A good pair of sunglasses will offer maximum UV protection whilst not hindering your ability to see (and you don’t have to get sunscreen in your eyes!)

You can find out more about the levels of UV protection here.

Protection From the Elements

Peru mountain treks

If you’re an adventurous traveler, you may be exploring sandy beaches, riding a bike across a dirt road, or traveling across dusty cities. You may even be going somewhere with snow or ice, and this actually reflects UV rays into your eyes.

All of these elements can be damaging to your eyes and can ruin a magical experience. Exposure to sand, dust and water may be especially damaging if you wear contact lenses because dirt can get trapped behind them.

Be sure to pick a strong pair of sunglasses that will keep you protected whilst you take full advantage of everything your chosen destination has to offer.

Vision loss, cataracts, eye related cancers, and even blindness can be repercussions of not wearing eye protection. Even if you’re traveling on a winter getaway, you should travel with proper eye protection, as snow blindness is a thing (and it sucks!!!)

Image credit: Masa Sakano (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Gradient Lenses

Traveler safari sunglasses beach

You may want to consider a pair of sunglasses with a gradient lens, especially if you’ll be driving a lot, or have booked in for a lot of outdoor recreation. These are highly practical glasses that are tinted on a gradient from the top to the bottom.

This type of gradient tinting means that the top of the lens is darkest and blocks out the most light. It is a very practical lens, blocking out bright light from overhead whilst allowing significantly more light through at the bottom.

This means you’re able to shield your eyes from overhead sunlight, whilst the bottom part of the lens allows plenty of light through so that you can clearly see what you’re doing, whether you’re sailing, driving, or skiing in the snow.

ilst the bottom will protect you from sunlight reflecting off the water, sand or snow.

Coated Lenses

You may also want to consider anti-reflective coating to reduce glare from the sun. Alternatively, you can opt for mirror coatings that are highly-reflective and significantly reduce the amount of light which enters your eyes.

These type of sunglasses are often called polarized sunglasses, and they block out intense light reflection and glare, improving both comfort and visibility.

You can find out more about various coatings here.

Size and Fit

Traveler pool sunglasses RF

It’s of course important to choose a sunglass style which fits your face and doesn’t cause any physical stress. UV is a top priority, but sunglasses which are too tight can cause ear and nose discomfort as well as inflict nasty headaches.

Choosing sunglasses with larger lenses or ones that wrap around your face will provide better coverage against the sun’s rays and its ill effects, as well as keeping you physically comfortable.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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