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Three Misconceptions About Sunglasses -- And The Real Truth

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Most everyone owns a pair of sunglasses, and most people know that wearing them is important for protecting your eyes from the sun. But some of what you know or assume about sunglasses may not actually be true -- and that could be causing damage to your eyes! Here's a look at three common misconceptions about sunglasses.

Misconception: If you buy expensive sunglasses, then they offer all the protection you need.

It is true that you're more likely to get a good pair of sunglasses if you shell out a little extra money rather than shopping in the bargain bin. But not all expensive, brand name sunglasses actually offer UV protection, which is what's most important. Before purchasing sunglasses, check to ensure that they block 100% of UV rays. Some designer brands may focus more on style than effectiveness, only blocking some of the UV rays. If you're having trouble finding UV-blocking sunglasses that you love, head to your eye doctor's office. Even if you don't need prescription lenses, they can help you find an effective pair.

Misconception: You don't need to wear your sunglasses if it's cloudy out.

If you've ever gotten a sunburn on a cloudy day, then you know firsthand that the UV rays are still making their way to earth even though it's cloudy. So it's really best to wear your sunglasses whenever you spend a substantial amount of time outside, even if it's not overly sunny. Use your own good judgement here. If you're just taking the trash out to the street, there's really no reason to put your sunglasses on first. But if you're about to spend an hour gardening, sunglasses are a safe choice.

Misconception: All sunglass styles are equally effective as long as the lenses block UV rays.

You do have some leeway when it comes to choosing your preferred style of sunglasses. But you do need to keep effectiveness in mind when choosing your style. If the sunglasses you choose have narrow or "short" lenses, then sunlight may hit your eyes from the sides or from the top. Make sure the style you choose is wide enough to protect your eyes completely. Bigger lenses tend to be a safer bet than smaller ones. Thankfully, aviator-style lenses are very fashionable and a good choice for many people.

If you have any questions about sunglasses and their effectiveness, speak with your eye doctor.