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What Is the Best UV Protection for Eyewear?

What Is the Best UV Protection for Eyewear?

Author name: Meredith Marmurek 


Overview of UV Protection and Why It’s Important 

The sun emits electromagnetic radiation called ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVA and UVB rays are types of radiation that penetrate Earth’s atmosphere to reach your skin and eyes.  


The sun’s UV rays can damage your eyes on both sunny and cloudy days if your eyes are not protected. That’s why it’s essential to wear sunglasses with the maximum level of UV protection any time you’re outside. 


UV protection is built into the lenses of spectacles and sunglasses to block harmful UV rays from reaching your eyes and the surrounding sensitive skin.  


This protection is important because the damage from UV radiation builds up over time. That means the more unprotected exposure you have, the higher your risk for developing associated eye health and vision problems. 


Most people don’t experience symptoms of long-term UV damage until age 40 or later. That’s why it’s critical for you (and your children) to wear sunglasses with 100% UVA-UVB lens protection.  

Why Protecting Eyes Is Important 

Being outside without eye protection can increase your risk of developing some eye and vision problems, including  


  • Photokeratitis (sunburned eyes) 

  • Pterygium (surfer’s eye)   

  • Cataracts  

  • Macular degeneration 

  • Cancers of the eyelid  


Wearing sunglasses with 100% UVA-UVB lens protection helps to block the sun’s harmful rays and prevent damage and disease from occurring. 

What UV Level Should Sunglasses Be? 

Look for sunglasses with maximum UV protection. They may be labelled as having 100% UVA-UVB lens protection or UV 400 protection. In either case, this means the lenses block 100% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays from reaching your eyes. 

Lens Tint and Light Transmission 

In addition to UV protection, glasses and sunglasses in the UK are grouped into categories between 0 and 4 based on how much visible light can pass through the lens. Clear and light-coloured lenses have higher percentages of visible light transmission (VLT), and dark-tinted lenses have lower VLTs.  


Here is an explanation of each category: 

Category 0 

This type of lens has either no tint or a very light tint, making it most suitable for wearing indoors, at night, and on overcast days.  

  • VLT: 80% to 100% 

  • Lens tint: Clear or very light 

  • Usage: Eyeglasses or safety glasses  

Category 1 

Like Category 0, Category 1 lenses aren’t dark enough to shield your eyes from bright sunlight, so they are best on partially cloudy days and Category 0 environments. 

  • VLT: 43% to 80% 

  • Lens tint: Yellow or very light 

  • Usage: Fashion accessory 

Category 2 

The lens tint is noticeable on Category 2 lenses. They absorb enough light to be worn as sunglasses on days with medium sunlight. 

  • VLT: 18% to 43% 

  • Lens tint: Red, pink, orange, or blue 

  • Usage: Sunglasses for overcast or somewhat bright days 

Category 3 

Most sunglass lenses fall into Category 3. They’re dark enough to wear in bright sunlight, enjoying the beach, or playing outdoor sports. 

  • VLT: 8% to 18% 

  • Lens tint: Grey, brown, or green  

  • Usage: Sunglasses for everyday wear 

Category 4 

This is the darkest type of lens and is too dark for everyday wear or safe driving.  

  • VLT: 3% to 8% 

  • Lens tint: Very dark brown or grey 

  • Usage: Only to be used in special circumstances with extreme sunlight; not for driving  


Remember that visible light transmission is specifically related to the tint of your lenses and how much visible light the lenses let through to your eyes. While darker sunglasses can provide some relief from the sun’s bright light, VLT is not an indicator of UV protection.  

Lens Colours 

In addition to the darkness of your sunglass lenses, the lens colour is another important feature to take into account. Some colours may fit your needs better than others:  


  • Amber and brown – These colours help with your depth and distance perception. Choose amber or brown for driving, fishing, or golfing on sunny days.  

  • Blue – Blue-tinted lenses enhance your colour perception contrast, even in wintry conditions. 

  • Green – This neutral tint works well in both bright sunlight and low-light conditions. 

  • Grey – This neutral tint is a great option for everyday activities in nearly any type of weather. 

  • Pink and red – These colours support depth perception and enhance contrast. 

  • Yellow – Yellow lenses are great in low-light conditions and are a popular choice for athletes because they make it easier to see moving objects more clearly. 

Other Factors to Consider When Shopping 

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a new pair of sunnies: 


  • PolarisationPolarised lenses have a special filter that reduces glare from highly reflective surfaces like snow and water. This helps you see more clearly and comfortably. 

  • Frame size – Sunglasses with a big frame and larger lenses are a good choice because they cover your eyes and more of your face. 

  • Frame shape – A wraparound frame offers the best UV protection. The frame curves around your face to block the sun from reaching your eyes and the delicate surrounding skin.  

What Is the Best UV Protection for Sunglasses? 

No matter how dark your lenses are, the best UV protection for sunglasses is 100% UVA-UVB lens protection, or UV 400. Because UV protection is critical for your vision and eye health, you should only wear sunglasses with this maximum level of protection.  

How to Tell If Your Sunglasses Have UV Protection 

Not all sunglasses have UV protection, and there isn’t a way to know how protective your lenses are just by looking at them. For example, even if your sunnies have dark lenses, that doesn’t necessarily mean they block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.  


The best way to know is to get your sunglasses tested at an optical store. An optician can test them — often for free — and let you know the level of UV protection they provide. 

Get Your Sunnies from a Trusted Source 

We have a wide variety of sunglasses for women and men, and they all provide 100% UVA-UVB lens protection. Shop Foster Grant to find your perfect pair. 




  1. Ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. Cleveland Clinic. November 2022.  
  2. 5 eye conditions linked to sun damage. All About Vision. March 2020.* 
  3. Protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV light. National Eye Institute. July 2022. 
  4. Sunglasses categories and UV protection. Glasses Direct. Accessed May 2024.* 
  5. Sunglasses lens color guide. Foster Grant (US). Accessed May 2024.* 
  6. What’s the best UV protection for sunglasses? All About Vision. March 2020.*  


The sources listed here have been provided for informational purposes only. The citation of a particular source does not constitute an endorsement or approval of EssilorLuxottica products, services, or opinions by such source. 


*Like Foster Grant, All About Vision, Glasses Direct, and AAV Media, LLC are affiliates of EssilorLuxottica.