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Sunglasses Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy sunglasses.
Getting Started
We make a statement by the sunglasses we choose to wear on a daily basis, without even saying a word. Many consider sunglasses to be the ultimate fashion accessory, as well as a way for them to express their individual style. Sunglasses can complete an outfit while offering the benefit of shade for your eyes even during the brightest of days. Read on to learn about the different Lenses, Frame Materials, Frame Shapes, and so much more, to find the perfect sunglasses to fit your style.
UV Protection
So first let's start with some basic information on why wearing sunglasses can be important for our eyesight, besides making a fashion statement of course. Sunglasses are crucial for those who are exposed to high levels of Ultraviolet (UV) light, especially during outdoor activities and bright weather. They help protect the eyes and delicate skin around the eye area from harmful UV rays. UV rays that are emitted by the sun can become a factor in causing conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and growths on the eye, including cancer. So with this being said, there are two types of UV light to be aware of: UVB and UVA.

UVB and UVA

UVB rays are extremely intense and the main cause of sunburns and cancer, while being extremely hazardous to the eyes. They are mainly stronger in the summer months between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Although this is the time when they are at their strongest, they also possess the ability to burn or damage skin and eyes year-round. UVA rays on the other hand are much less intense. However they are 30-50 times more common than UVB rays.

Most sunglasses offer UV protection that help protect eyes against permanent sun damage and cataracts. The recommended standards for UV protection offer at least 60% UVA and at least 70% UVB protection. The protective coating is applied to the lens portion of the sunglasses during the manufacturing process and the lens tint does not affect the strength of the UV protection itself, so if you have a preference of light or dark tints, UV protection will remain the same.
Polarization
Polarized lenses offer many beneficial advantages, and should at least be considered when making a sunglass purchase. The way that polarized lenses function is by blocking light rays that would normally enter your eyes after reflecting off of surfaces. The light that enters your eye after passing through a polarized lens is already filtered, resulting in the wearer seeing in a different way that reduces glare, eyestrain, and offers a better vision overall.

Polarized lens technology is able to remove the effects of a glare by blocking reflections, which in turn improves safety while driving and brings comfort to the eyes. It also allows one to take in their surroundings without having to squint. Squinting to see clear images stresses the eyes and may even create uncomfortable eye health issues. The polarized lens can neutralize this issue and allow one's eyes to feel more comfortable and well rested. One last, neat feature that polarized lenses offer is that they can reveal colors and images like never before. Experience a level of detail that is crisp and clean, that a lot of the time may surprise you.
Frame Shape
There are endless selections and variations of sunglasses available to accommodate each and every style or activity. Here at Abt we have a wide selection of different types of frame shapes, so read on to help you determine which one works best for you.

Aviator / Pilot
Aviator / Pilot Sunglasses
Aviator / Pilot sunglasses usually have a wire frame that may include a wire across the bridge of the nose. They are mostly big and bold, with large oversized lenses. They most commonly include features such as UV protection and polarization. Ray-Ban, Burberry, and Gucci brands are a great place to start if looking for the aviator/pilot sunglass frame.

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Butterfly
Butterfly Sunglasses
Butterfly sunglasses are usually associated with the "oversized" type of style, that offers extended protection around your face. They are often made thinner across the bridge of the eyes and nose. However, once you hit the temple area, the frame becomes thicker, resembling the shape of a butterfly. This type of frame is a great way to show off one's personality while making a style statement from the 50's era, which is still considered fashion forward in this day and age.

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Cat Eye
Cat Eye Sunglasses
Cat eye shaped sunglasses are characterized by rounded frames that flare out near the temples. Most frames feature oval lenses with the extended portion of the eye rim drawn out into an upward and outward point. When it comes to this particular cat eye fashion forward frame, the most compelling decorative innovations are the "brows". This usually means that different sculptural, appliqué, and ornamental effects are incorporated on the top edges of cat-eye rims. If your style is considered "retro", then this type of frame, which became popular in the 1950's and 60's, is just the style you're looking for. Versace, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana brands are a great place to begin your cat eye search.

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Oval
Oval Sunglasses
Oval shaped sunglasses have rounded edges and are much wider than they are taller. Oval frames are able to soften angularity; while the low profile lets your facial features take center stage. The oval shape frame is ideal for those who have diamond or square faces.

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Rectangular
Rectangular Sunglasses
Rectangular frames are characterized by having a broad frame throughout, as well as strong features. They are also wider than they are tall, similar to the oval shaped frames. Sharp-edged rectangle frames convey a sporty or "bold statement" look, while a rounded edge offers a softer look. A rectangle shape can complement many different face shapes and styles. Taking a look at Oakley and Ray-Ban is a good start since both offer a wide variety of rectangular frames.

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Rimless
Rimless Sunglasses
Rimless frames are sunglasses that do not have a rim that wraps around the frame of the actual lenses. There are a few benefits to rimless glasses, one being that they weigh less than other glasses because they have less material. On top of that, the rims are not obstructing your view, making it easier to see more. Rimless sunglasses can also bring more attention to your face and eyes and less to the actual glasses, resulting in a much more subtle look.

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Round
Round Sunglasses
Round eyewear frames are best described as being curved frames that are equally wide and tall. They can soften angular faces, with perfectly circular shapes conveying a vintage look.

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Shield
Shield Sunglasses
Shield sunglasses are characterized with a wide lens that extends towards the temple, similar to the aviator style. Oakley, Gucci, and Maui Jim are popular brands for the shield frame look.

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Square
Square Sunglasses
Square sunglasses have a large, extended shape that can cover the eye as well as the top of the cheekbone. Square frames can also add contrast to soft facial curves and help shorten longer faces.

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Wayfarer
Wayfarer Sunglasses
Wayfarer frames are created with a trapezoidal frame shape and thick rims. This breakthrough technology was a new creation for the Ray-Ban brand, that took advantage of plastic molding technology and the new durable, plastic called acetate that had only just been invented in the 60's. It's perfect for the rebellious, independent thinker who is looking to take on the world with new and innovative ideas.

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Wrap
Wrap Sunglasses
Wrap eyewear extends beyond the temple area for full coverage protection, usually used for sportswear. Wrap sunglasses offer a semi-circular frame that curve around the head for a panoramic-type view. This means, with wrap sunglasses, nothing will be blocking your peripheral vision.

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Frame Material
Choosing a frame material is critical in purchasing sunglasses to fit your needs, it plays a huge role in the comfort, safety and functionality of your new glasses. Different materials lead to different functions, price ranges, and styles.

Acetate
Acetate is a plastic itself, but a bit different compared to the standard plastic frames (such as Acrylic or Polyurethane), acetate frames are made stronger, more flexible and even generally lighter. They come in a huge variety of colors and textures, and since the color is embedded into the material instead of painted on, it tends to stay on very well.

Aluminum
Aluminum frames are created to be lightweight and highly corrosion-resistant. Its primary use is for high-end eyewear designers because of the unique look it creates. Pure aluminum is in reality very soft and weak; however commercial aluminum with small amounts of silicon and iron is hard and strong, making for a durable pair of eyewear.

Metal
Metal is commonly used in manufacturing frames due to its malleability, corrosion resistance, and ease of adjustability, which in turn makes it very easy to tailor to many face shapes and frame styles. Metal frames usually run a bit more expensive than any other materials, as well as being less durable and not ideal for action sports. They are, however great for making bold fashion statements.

Nylon
Nylon frames are the best frames to use when participating in sports or performance activities. They are also very resistant to temperature fluctuations, and remain super flexible while still retaining the stiffness required for safety. Nylon frames run less expensive while being lightweight and stronger, when compared to traditional metal frames.

Plastic
When it comes to plastic frames for sunglasses, they could be made out of a wide variety of different types of plastics such as Acrylic and Polyurethane. Plastic frames are usually the cheapest frames available, and come in a variety of colors.

Titanium
Titanium is a silver-gray metal that's lightweight, durable, strong, and scratch resistant. Titanium eyewear can be produced in a variety of colors for a clean, modern look with a hint of color. It's also hypoallergenic and generally found in higher-end sunglasses.
Lens Material
Lens material is a huge factor when purchasing a pair of sunglasses; it influences four main factors that you should consider: appearance, comfort, vision, and safety. Read on to learn more about the lens material's that most sunglasses are made with.

Glass
A glass lens offers superior optical clarity to assure distortion-free vision, while manufactured to be extremely durable and scratch-resistant. Glass is however, heavier than other materials and usually more expensive. Another thing to keep in mind, when impacted a glass lens may "spider" or break, which can be hazardous for active sports.

Plastic
When it comes to a plastic lens material expect a lightweight and impact resistant design. Plastic lenses are much lighter than glass lenses and commonly used in manufacturing eyewear in this day and age. They provide excellent comfort and durability, while being affordable and safe. Plastic lenses also help contribute endless amounts of different design options.

Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate lenses are even thinner and lighter and much more durable than standard plastic lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are made from a similar material to that of aircraft windshields, which are virtually indestructible. They are best made for individuals who will be moving around frequently in their sunglasses. The disadvantage of polycarbonate is that they have a slightly lower level of scratch resistance.
Lens Color
When purchasing sunglasses, the lens color adds to the performance of the lens when it comes to different lighting conditions. It does not however, contribute to increased UV protection. Different lens colors are able to provide an array of different looks and can cause your eyes to react differently to varying light, making certain colors more suitable for specific activities and conditions.

Dark Colors: Green | Grey | Brown
Dark colors are ideal for everyday use and most outdoor activities. Grey and green colors are neutral and cut down on the intensity of light without distorting colors. They are able to cut through the glare and reduce eyestrain in moderate-to-bright conditions. Brown tints enhance the quality of light, cutting out neutral brown tones and giving the wearer an increased contrast and depth perception, they can however cause color distortion.

Yellow | Gold | Amber | Rose | Vermilion
Light colors excel in moderate - to low - level light conditions. They are often great for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow related sports. Light colors are able to provide excellent depth perception and enhance contrasts in tricky, flat-light conditions. They are also helpful in improving the visibility of objects and making your surroundings appear much brighter.

Blue | Purple
Blue and purple lens colors are primarily used for cosmetic wear; they do not have a functional value. Side note: this is different compared to blue or purple chrome, which are indeed functional and useful.

Mirrored or Flash Coated
A mirrored or flash coated lens refers to a reflective film applied to the outside surfaces of some lenses. Mirrored or Flash coated lenses are highly desirable for people with high sensitivity to bright light since they reduce glare by reflecting much of the light that hits the lens surface. Mirrored coatings also often make objects appear darker than they actually are.