by Dr. Kathryn Barberic, OD

Summer is on its way! Choosing the best protection after LASIK: Are you wearing the right pair of sunglasses?


Spring is finally here, thank goodness, and summer is right around the corner. Along with the warmer weather comes a lot more fun in the sun- fishing outings, trips to the beach and more time spent on the golf course. We share in the excitement of being independent of glasses and contact lenses during these activities after LASIK, but did you know that choosing the right pair of sunglasses after your refractive surgery procedure can help with protection and comfort?

Although the healing time for LASIK is brief, some people do find that their eyes are more sensitive to light. This side effect is temporary and mild for most but a high-quality pair of sunglasses can really help. Even after your LASIK recovery, there are many ocular health benefits to having a high-quality pair of sunglasses on hand for your days in the sun.

Let us help you understand what to look for in your next pair of sunglasses!


Normal sunglasses provide basic protection against both vertical and horizontal UV Rays but do not block glare from the horizontal rays- such as those reflected off snow, water or the hood of your car. This horizontal glare has a profound effect on our vision while on the water or pavement. Polarized sunglasses have a built in filter that allows only vertical rays thru- blocking all glare from the horizontal rays. These lenses are most popular in the fishing and boating communities but polarized lenses can help reduce eye fatigue, strain, and discomfort in any activity that involves drastic changes in lighting conditions. Polarized sunglasses can help with comfort, clarity and can greatly enhance colors by diminishing reflection and glare.

UV Protection and Full Coverage

So of course, our LASIK patients can benefit from a pair of protective sunglasses but so can everyone else. Ultraviolet rays from the sun are incredibly damaging to our eyes. UV Rays may lead to macular degeneration (a leading cause of central vision loss for older patients), cataracts, pterygiums (fibrovascular growth on the white part of the eye that may grow onto the cornea and block vision), skin cancer, and corneal sunburn also known as photokeratitis. Although polarized lenses do protect against some UV exposure not all polarized lenses protect against harmful UV Rays. Always confirm with your optical sales associate that the glasses you choose block UVA/UVB 100%. These glasses are usually labeled as UV 400 and offer complete protection for eyes.

The majority of us know the importance of UV protection but it is also essential to protect from every angle with a full wrap design. Most traditional sunglasses feature two front-facing lenses but UV rays can still reach the eyes from above and the sides of the frame. You do not have to compromise style with a protective pair of wraparound sunglasses; there are countless fashion forward options in wrap around designs. If you fall in love with a pair that does not have a wraparound design, make sure to inquire about the front and backside antireflective coatings. They help to minimize the mirror effect of the lens from light entering the rear.

Comfort and the Right Fit

So just like a well-tailored suit, your sunglasses should be properly fit for the wearer. The right fit will help with comfort, look more flattering and help you see better. We all do not have the same head size, face shape or same sized facial features. It is important to find a frame that corresponds to the contours of your face. The shape of the frame also plays a role. Thicker frames and those that fit more tightly to your face, not only help to protect against UV rays more efficiently but also offer mechanical protection against impact and environmental elements such as dust, sand, allergens and pollen.

Materials of Lenses

When purchasing a new pair of sunglasses, choosing the right lens tint and material can be a little confusing. The majority of sunglasses are constructed with materials such as CR39 plastic, crown glass or polycarbonate. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Plastic lenses are often recommended due to their lighter weight but with long exposure to extreme temperatures and UV radiation the lenses may warp. Glass lenses are now offered in high index materials and are 50% thinner than their older counterparts. Glass lenses keep the eyes cooler with extended wear and tend to be more scratch resistant than other lenses. They are also easily tinted. Polycarbonate lenses are known for their shatterproof quality and are ten times more impact resistant. They are more difficult to tint though and tend to scratch more easily, leading to visual distortion. There are pros and cons to any material lens- make sure you talk to your optical sales associate to pick what is right for you.

Lens Tint

So now that we know the importance of UV protection, do not be fooled into thinking that the darker the tint, the more protection from UV radiation. This is a false assumption. There are many different colors and types of lens tints that relate to different environmental conditions the wearer may encounter.

Grey lenses are the most common color and are great for general sunglass use. They do not change the value of color and provide true color perception. They are recommended for any outdoor activity and

Brown or amber lenses improve contrast and have a red hue that helps with depth perception. These lenses are great for any activity where judging distances is critical, such as golf, fishing, boating, etc.

Blue, purple Mirrored lenses are known for the fashion statement they make but they also greatly reduce glare and increase contrast sensitivity. These lenses are great for any activity with the possibility of glare such as skiing, fishing, biking or driving. Just make sure that you pay attention to the base tint color along with the reflective coating on the outer surface, both play a role in the way the glasses perform.

Amber, gold and yellow lenses perform very well in low light and cloudy conditions but do not offer much blockage in real sunny conditions. Many anglers choose these lenses as they aid in seeing at the bottom of rivers and lakes in overcast conditions.

Now that we know that sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory- make sure you pick the right pair! Not all sunglasses offer the same level of protection. For our Lasik patients, a good pair of quality sunglasses prevent and protect while healing, but we should all have a good pair on hand to safeguard the eyes from sun damage. So whether you are headed out the door for Shelby Bottoms, Steeple Chase or to catch a show at Ascend Amphitheater, make sure you have your sunscreen, hat and the RIGHT pair of shades!