Choosing the Right Sunglasses in 4 Steps

choosing the right sunglasses

As soon as the sun comes out, the sunnies go on. But are your sunglasses really doing their job? Whether you’re buying a brand new pair, or fishing out your old ones, it’s important to ensure that your sunglasses provide enough protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV damage is cumulative and over time can increase your risk of a variety of eye conditions, including cataracts and macular degeneration. 

Whizz through this 4-step checklist and you can look forward to great sun protection from your sunglasses. 

1. Check your sunglasses meet national standards

Australian standards state that all sunglasses and fashion spectacles must adhere to the specifications of one of 5 categories: 


  • Category 0 (very light) — these glasses offer no to very mild tinting, and aren’t classed as sunglasses, which means almost all visible sunlight passes through into your eyes
  • Category 1 (light) — these glasses absorb a little visible sunlight but still don’t count as sunglasses and are instead worn on low-sun days by people with sensitive eyes. 
  • Category 2 (marginal) — these are tinted sunglasses that absorb some visible light and work well on overcast to moderately sunny days. 
  • Category 3 (dark) — these are tinted sunglasses that absorb even more visible light than category 2 and work well on sunny days
  • Category 4 (very dark) — these are heavily tinted sunglasses that absorb most visible sunlight and are used on extreme sun exposure days but can’t be worn when driving during the day or night


If you’re unsure which category of sunglasses or fashion spectacles you need, speak to your optometrist. 

2. Check if your sunglasses are polarised

When the sun is especially bright, glare becomes a problem. This occurs when direct sunlight or sunlight that is reflected off shiny surfaces (e.g. bodies of water, car bonnets, snow) reflects off your lenses and directly into your eyes. This can impair your vision and make you squint. 

Polarised sunglasses have a special coating on the lenses, which filters out reflected light at certain angles and, consequently, reduces glare. Polarised sunglasses can therefore make driving in bright conditions safer and make outdoor sports, such as skiing and fishing, more enjoyable. 

3. Check if your sunglasses have UV protection

All sunglasses sold in Australia should meet UV protection standards. This means that the lenses should offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB radiation, which are produced by the sun and can damage your eyes. 

4. Check your sunglasses aren’t scratched

Protection from UV rays and glare are all built into your lenses. Scratches on your lenses, therefore, damage this protection. The more scratches on your lenses, the less protection you have. 


Bonus tip

If you have an eyewear prescription, don’t forget that you can buy sunglasses that come with all of the great stuff described above (polarised lenses, UV protection and tints) as well as prescription lenses. This means you don’t need to wear contact lenses under your sunglasses or keep switching from your specs to your sunnies. Plus, you can claim prescription sunglasses on your private health care fund cover, if it includes optical cover.

If you’re looking for a stylish pair of sunglasses that meet Australian standards, discover our range here