How to choose between Sunnies and fashion glasses!


Sunglasses aren’t an optional summertime accessory, they’re essential for long term health of your eyes. In Australia, we are exposed to some of the highest levels of UV in the world and our eyes are at risk of developing serious issues if left unprotected.

Exposure to the sun and it’s UV rays can increase the risk of eye disease, including cataracts, growths on the eye, and eye cancer.

To provide the right protection your sunglasses should have lenses with category three or four protection.  Plus close fitting wrap-around sunglasses or styles with wide temples (arms) provide the best protection for light entering from the side of the face.


When you are choosing your next pair of sunglasses, check the tag to see what category the glasses fall into.

Lens category 0

These are fashion spectacles, not sunglasses. They have a very low ability to reduce sun glare and may provide only some or no UV protection.

Lens category 1

Like category 0 lenses, these are fashion spectacles, not sunglasses; however, they do provide limited sun glare reduction and some UV protection. Fashion spectacles with category 1 lenses are not suitable for driving at night.

Lens category 2

These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. They’re good for wearing day-to-day. These sunglasses are good if your preference is for a brighter view and you’re not overly sensitive to light.

Lens category 3

These sunglasses provide a good level of UV protection. Lens category 3 glasses also provide a high level of sun glare reduction. These sunglasses are good if you prefer darker lenses or are particularly sensitive to light in particular situations (e.g. while driving in direct sunlight, sunlight reflection on the water at the beach).

Lens category 4

These are special purpose sunglasses that provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. Lens category 4 sunglasses must not be used when driving at any time.

Follow these practical tips to protect your eyes against UV damage:

  • Make a habit of wearing sunglasses outdoors, even on cloudy and overcast days.
  • When purchasing a pair of sunnies for general use, remember to look for a category 2 or 3 lens – this means they meet the Australian standard.
  • Wraparound style sunglasses that are close-fitting provide better protection against UV damage.
  • You can further protect your eyes by wearing a broad-brimmed or bucket style hat.
  • Visit your optometrist regularly for an eye examination.
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Sunglasses with photochromic lenses

Photochromic lenses darken when exposed to specific types of light.

Once the light source is removed (like when walking inside) the lenses gradually return to clear. Some photochromic lenses may not be suitable for night driving, depending on the time it takes for the tint to change. Talk to your sunglass specialist or optometrist for more information.

  • Don’t be fooled by a dark tint. Dark lenses don’t necessarily provide UV protection.
  • Look for sunglasses labelled category 2, 3 or 4 to give your eyes the best UV protection.
  • Choose the right sunglasses for your activity. Talk to your optometrist or sunglass specialist to help you choose the right pair.
  • Avoid sunglasses labelled category 1 and category 4 if you plan to wear sunglasses while driving.
  • Polarised lenses can be more expensive, and do help cutting down glare. But they aren’t necessary unless you spend a lot of time outdoors in high-glare situations, such as on the water.
  • Sunglasses come in a range of prices, it doesn’t matter what you spend as long as they comply with the Australian Standard and have a lens category of 2 or 3, they’ll do the job.
The most important advice is to put on your sunglasses whenever you are outside, no matter the season. It’s just as important to wear sunglasses in winter as well as in summer.