BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The West Virginia Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (WVAEPS), alongside the American Academy of Ophthalmology, wrote a guide to the best sunglasses to buy to protect your eyes this summer. The biggest takeaway? UV protection is the most important thing.

The eye experts say to only buy sunglasses that are labeled as 100% UV-A and UV-B or UV400 protection. If you’re unsure if your sunglasses provide proper protection, the academy said you can test lenses with a photometer at an optical shop.

Medical experts agree that wearing sunglasses during sunny days are good for your eyes but not all sunglasses are created equal. Although most name brands protect your eyes against UVA and UVB rays most generic and off brand names do not. 59News talked to Dr. Kevin Kissel at Kissel Family Optometry in Pineville, who says you need to be sure before you buy any sunglasses.  

“If you go with a brand name you’re guaranteed to get quality.  If not you have to see if it says uva or uvb protection.  A lot of the knockoffs from China or whatever they’ll say it but they’re not. “

Dr. Kevin Kissel at Kissel Family Optometry in Pineville

Dr. Kissel also says if your not sure about your glasses his office can test to determine how much protection your getting with your glasses. 

“Wearing sunglasses without 100% UV protection is actually a serious health risk. Regardless of the season, sun exposure can increase the risk of developing growths on the eye, cataracts, and some eye cancers.”

WVAEPS President Dr. Ghassan Ghorayebm

The good news is that price doesn’t matter when it comes to eye protection. As long as the 100% UV label is there, cheap sunglasses can be just as effective at protecting your eyes as brand-name sunglasses.

For even more protection, experts recommend getting sunglasses with larger lenses. Wraparound glasses offer the best coverage, according to the WVAEPS. They protect the eye from UV light entering from the side and shield the eye from wind, which prevents dry eye and getting sand and dust in the eye.

It’s important to note that darker lenses or polarized lenses do not block more radiation. While these lenses can help with comfort, they do not protect as well as lenses that have the UV protection label.

Finally, the American Academy of Ophthalmology wanted to remind individuals who are 65 or older that they may be eligible for a medical eye exam through its EyeCare America program. This public service program comes often at no out-of-pocket cost. The program matches volunteer ophthalmologists with eligible patients in need of eye care across the United States. The association encourages people to visit its website to determine their eligibility.