Busting Myths About Sunglasses for Traveling

Traveling is a great way to see the world—but if you run into illness or injury, it can negatively affect your overall experiences. The likelihood of this happening is pretty high: nearly 80% of all Americans who venture abroad contract travel-related health conditions. That’s probably why you’ll want to prepare.

To be truly fit for travel, it’s essential to nourish yourself with a healthy diet and boost your stamina with exercise. You’ll also want to protect yourself from one of the biggest causes of travel injuries: the sun. Aside from sunburn, overexposure to its UV rays can cause gradual damage that eventually leads to more serious conditions like skin cancer. That’s why it’s crucial to always bring items like sunscreen and sun hats.

Don’t neglect your eyes in the process! The sun is also linked to blindness-causing issues like macular degeneration and cataracts, so bring sunglasses. However, think twice before packing the pair you have at home—contrary to what you may think, not all sunglasses are actually suited for adventuring. Read on to learn the truth behind common myths about this protective eyewear for traveling to help you pick the best possible pair for your needs.

Cheap pairs are fine 

Generally, any sunglasses can protect you as long as they boast UV-blocking lenses. You can check for this by looking for a label or sticker marked “UV 400” or “100% UV protection.” That’s why expensive pairs aren’t necessarily more effective. However, that doesn’t mean cheaper specs will be much better.

These sunglasses can pose a new problem in the form of poor-quality lenses. If they’re made of cheap plastic, they’ll easily distort your vision, cause headaches, and even get you into accidents. To avoid that on your travels, ditch the souvenir shop sunnies and look for pairs with prescription-quality lenses from reliable brands like Ray-Ban. 

Darker tints are better

Though you may think darker lenses will block more light, the opposite is actually true. Without that UV protection, sunglasses that are simply dark will dilate your pupils further and let more light in. That said, it’s best to choose sunglasses based on whether they block UV rays and the amount of Visible Light Transmission (VLT) they allow.

If you’re heading somewhere sunny, aim for a low VLT of 0-19%. Going to a more overcast locale? Get sunglasses that come with lenses with a VLT between 40% and 80%. That way, your travel sunnies will keep the sun from blinding you—but won’t let more light in while doing so.

Glasses wearers shouldn’t bother 

Need glasses for vision correction? You probably know how inconvenient it is to wear separate sunglasses on top of them. That’s especially true when you’re traveling, as you’ll have to remember where both types of eyewear are at all times just to constantly switch between them depending on whether you’re indoors or outdoors.

The hassle these issues present alone can discourage you from using sunglasses altogether. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother bringing them at all. Most major eyewear brands let you put your prescription on their frames for a convenient way to achieve both clear and protected vision. And though prescription sunglasses can be pricey, don’t worry: you have cheaper alternatives. That includes lightweight clip-on sunglasses, which fit securely over your regular glasses to provide immediate protection at a fraction of the cost. The ClipOn models from Foster Grant even come in both rimmed and rimless varieties to suit every frame imaginable, illustrating just how easy it can be to get the protection your eyes need—even if you wear glasses.

Sunglasses only suit sunny getaways 

As travel essentials, sunglasses are most commonly associated with sunnier vacations, like beach outings. However, you may be surprised to learn that you’ll need them even if you’re heading to a ski resort! As long as you’re surrounded by reflective surfaces—such as snow, water, and even the shiny exteriors of cars and city buildings during walking tours—you’re at risk of sunlight glancing off them, bouncing into your eyes, and temporarily blinding you through a condition known as photokeratitis (snow blindness). Though temporary, it’s painful, which is why you’ll want to pack sunglasses that can block the glare that causes it. To grab yourself a pair, look for the type that uses a specific kind of lens coating: polarized sunglasses.

Thanks to a special chemical, these only let in vertical rays of light, not horizontal rays of glare. Brands like Oakley even enhance this effect by supplementing it with further trademark technologies like PRIZM, which improves color and contrast for even better vision and risk-free sightseeing opportunities the next time you travel—no matter where you’re headed.



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