When the sky is blue, the sun is out, the sea is calm — and, if you are a sailor, the wind is up — you have all the ingredients for a perfect day.
The headache you might get from squinting for hours on end is not, however, the only damage your eyes may undergo. Exposure to too much sunlight, in particular, UV rays, can harm your eyes and lead to conditions such as cataracts or photokeratitis, a condition similar to a sunburn on the eye.
There are of course a huge variety of sunglasses available on the market, but boaters need some specific qualities, whether they are fishing on a small lake or sailing on the wide, open sea. By its very nature, boating exposes mariners to sunlight and glare for long amounts of time with little or no protection. Below is a guide to some of the different aspects of choosing the best pair of sunglasses for your boating experience.
If you already wear prescription glasses, you can still protect your eyes from the sun without needing to wear contacts.
The first question that many people ask when buying sunglasses is: glass or plastic lenses?
Before thinking about the color of your sunglass lenses, it is essential that you choose sunglasses with polarized lenses. Lenses that are not polarized reduce light but not glare, so the sun off the water, sails, or white hulls will still give you a headache. In addition, when a lens is polarized it does not have to be dark, so your visibility will be just as strong as it was without sunglasses.
Different types of lens colors are good for different situations, so keep the list below in mind when you are deciding what lens color works for you.
Whatever type of sunglass lenses you choose, they should afford you protection from both UVA and UVB radiation. UVB radiation is what gives you a tan and can give you sunburn, and is the type that was long thought to be the one worth watching out for. UVA rays, however, can enter your eyes and damage them, so your sunglasses should shield you from both.
All of these qualifications, however, are no good if your sunglasses do not fit properly. When you try them on, check for the following:
Of course, no matter how well sunglasses fit, accidents can happen. For this reason, many boaters invest in a tie or strap (sometimes called croakies) that wraps around the back of the head and connect both arms.
One more thing to keep in mind about sun protection is that it should be worn even on cloudy days. You may not be able to see the sun, but UV rays still make their way through the clouds and pose a danger to your health.
A good pair of sunglasses is likely to be on the expensive side, somewhere around $150, but if you are using them for hours at a time on the water a good pair is what you need. Once you have your sunglasses chosen, you are ready to spend long hours on the water without worrying about sun damage (as long as you have sunscreen on, too!).