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Why do we wear sunglasses in the first place? Basically, there are two reasons. On the one end, they protect our eyes from bright light and UV rays. On the other hand, they add personal style and flair to our outfits.
How did we come up with sunglasses, to begin with?
If you go back in history, you will see that people actually had Ivory bone glasses with a little slit so the snow wasn't so bright in their eyes. If you look at Romans in ancient Chinese, they used smoked quartz or stones to filter the light that reach their eyes.
In 1752, someone added tinted lenses into spectacle frames. In 1936, polarized lenses first appeared and they filtered the polarizing light from horizontal surfaces so you had fewer sparkles. By the 1980's, top gun came around and everybody wanted aviator sunglasses.
So what do sunglasses do? First of all, they darken the light that reaches your face. Second, they filter UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, sunglasses should have a UV400 label because it filters the maximum amount in sunglasses.
Cheap lenses often suffer from visual distortion. A higher quality lens has more contrast and usually they have better lens scratch resistant coating. Probably the best sunglass lenses out there come from Zeiss, today.
Bausch and Lomb also had really high-quality lenses and you can usually recognize them by a little BL on the side of the sunglasses. They were actually bought by RayBan and today, the quality has suffered. Another quality maker of lenses is Randolph Engineering, the ones I'm wearing right here and it often comes with polarizing lenses and the colors pop really well.
One thing that's really popular these days is polarized lenses on sunglasses. It means that light that is reflected from the horizontal surface such as water, or highway, is filtered out and so when you look through something and you look at the sea, you don't see these water sparkles, you just see a flat surface.
So, how should sunglasses fit? They should cover your eyes and sit as closely to your eye as possible.
Next up, let's talk about sunglass materials. 95% of sunglasses today are injection molded and they're made with plastic. They're not super durable and they also feel cheap.
A much better version is acetate.First of all, you create and entire block which is then cut into sheets out of which sunglasses are made. Acetate can be very clear, have these nice sparkles and you will never get it with an injection molding. They're also hand-polished.
Metal sunglasses are particularly nice during very hot weather because the frame always feels cooler but of course, there are different materials. Very lightweight options include titanium alloys, you can have nickel alloys.
A luxury material for sunglasses is a genuine water buffalo horn, it's a wonderful material because not only does it look excellent, but it also adapts to your body temperature so it's never too warm or too cool. Water Buffalo horn is not very flexible so it's really only used in custom or bespoke sunglasses.
Next up is tortoise shell. Back in the day, it was actually made from a real tortoise.Today, it is illegal to use tortoise shell to make actual products, however, if you can prove that the tortoise shell is from pre-1973, and you have the right certificates, you can still use them.
In recent years, wood has been introduced to the sunglasses market. To me, it doesn't feel right on my temples, on my skin, and I much rather prefer acetate or horn. Also, most wooden sunglasses today are made in China.
Sunglass do's and don'ts:
1. You should never look directly at the sunlight because it hurts your eyes.
2. Don't wear sunglasses at night unless you have a medical condition because it makes you look like you're trying too hard.
3. Take off your sunglasses indoors.
4. If you go for a classic look, avoid white sunglasses because there's too much of a contrast and it looks odd.
5. Avoid wearing sunglasses with any kind of formal wear such as black tie or white tie.
6. Invest in a pair of sunglasses that suit your face.
At the end of the day, you should always buy the best kind of sunglass material and lenses you can afford.
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