When it comes to choosing sunglasses, optician Joy Gibb of Woods Cross, Utah, says her customers have three basic questions: " 'What about UV protection?' 'What about polarization?' and 'Do I look good?' "
She tells them that polarized lenses reduce glare and are especially helpful for driving, but polarization alone doesn’t provide UV protection. Ideally, your glasses should have both, but UV protection is crucial.
Most of Gibb’s customers are 50 and older and active in sports and other outdoor activities like gardening.
"People who are 50-plus are mountain-biking, riding motorcycles, boating, golfing, snowmobiling, so they need to keep debris out of their eyes as well as improve their vision," she says.
She finds that many of her customers are looking for different sunglasses for different activities. "The pair they buy for golf may not be the same kind they want for riding a motorcycle," she says. They might choose wrap-around glasses to protect eyes from wind and grit while riding motorcycles or bicycles, and get polarized amber lenses to increase contrast and cut glare for golfing.
Gibb is also a big believer in buying sunglasses that are colorful and fun to wear.
She notes that the '80s styles, like metal-frame aviators and the big, round Jackie O glasses, are popular again. Also big sellers are frames with animal and graphic prints, as well as eye-popping colors like bright red and turquoise.
"Sunglasses can just make you feel good, and if you feel good, you're more likely to wear them," she says.
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Candy Sagon writes about health issues for the AARP Bulletin.