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A Part-by-Part Guide to Buying Sunglasses

Posted by Tmbr on

These days, sunglasses are an everyday essential: They’re fashionable, functional and fun to wear. Choosing the perfect pair for you, however, goes beyond the simple aesthetics. These all-important accessories are composed of numerous individual components, each of which should be suited to the specific wearer in order to ensure long-term comfort and ideal performance. While certain parts of sunglasses are decidedly more complex than others, each one plays a necessary role in achieving a specific fit, feel and style.

It’s a good idea to start with a basic understanding of how sunglasses are put together and how they perform before making an investment. For total confidence in your selection, consult this helpful guide before your next purchase.

The Lenses

The heart and soul of any sunglasses, lenses are what actually shield your eyes from bright light and, ideally, protect them from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun. They are commonly made from glass or plastic materials and can be found in a variety of different types, including polarized lenses, which are made to reduce glare and sharpen visual definition. Certain types of colored lenses can also affect clarity, with gray being considered the most neutral and thus best for preserving true-to-life colors.

With regard to safety, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends choosing lenses that offer at least 99% protection against both UVA and UVB rays. These are the two types most frequently associated with known health hazards, including the formation of cataracts and other malignant eye growths. Sunglasses that are advertised as offering UV 400 performance do meet the recommended criteria, as they block all radiation with wavelengths 400 nm and below, including 100% of UVA/UVB rays.

A final note on lenses: The AAO cites impact resistance as another desirable quality in sunglasses, as it can greatly reduce the chances of eye injuries should damage occur.

Parts of Sunglasses - Rims / Lenses

The Rims

Front and center, the rims (also called the eye wires) are truly the face of the frames. They hold the lenses while also playing a major part in the overall look of a pair of sunglasses. Small end pieces extend out from each side, serving as connection points for the temples, and may feature stylish embellishments of their own.

Rims themselves are made in a wide variety of different styles to suit all different types of wearers, from more traditional rounded looks to squared-off and semi-rimless styles for those seeking a more modern appearance. Try out different frames to find out which suits your face shape best.

The Temples/Arms

Also called arms, the temples are the parts that actually extend back from the lens rims and are worn over the ears to help support the sunglasses. They are often made from materials such as metal, plastic or wood. When opting for sunglasses with wood frames or temples, it’s smart to look for those that have been treated to resist moisture, as water and sweat can cause problems otherwise.

It’s also important to choose shades with an appropriate temple width for proper comfort. If too much space exists between the temples, it can allow for glasses to fit loosely or fall off. With insufficient spacing, however, temples are likely to squeeze or pinch, potentially causing discomfort, headaches, etc. It’s always a good idea to try before you buy, or when shopping online, look for detailed measurements to avoid ending up with ill-fitting shades.

Parts of Sunglasses - Legs / Bridge

The Bridge

Situated between the rims, the bridge sits on the wearer’s nose and works along with the temples to support a pair of sunglasses and keep them in place. A better fit and greater comfort can also be achieved through inclusion of small nose pads, which can be affixed flush to the frame or extended with small arms for a tighter fit. These pads are generally made from softer materials, such as plastic or silicone.

Some styles of sunglasses feature both a bridge as well as a separate top bar. A good example of this configuration can be found on aviators, whose frames are slimmer by nature. In these instances, the top bar aids in promoting support and stability, while also adding a measure of visual appeal.

The Rest

Several smaller components and hardware also come into play in and around the temples. While they may not be the focal point of your next purchase, it still is helpful to know about each of these core sunglasses parts:

  • Earpieces: The coated ends of temples, earpieces can be incorporated to promote comfortable wear. Popular on metal frames, these sections are generally enrobed in a plastic material to create a softer point of contact behind the ear.
  • Hinges: The hinges connect the rims’ end pieces to the temples and allow for sunglasses to fold up for convenient storage when not in use. Some contemporary sunglasses feature added hinge flexibility to lessen pressure and increase comfort.
  • Screws: These are frequently utilized within the hinges and often at the nose pad to fasten parts together. Tightening usually requires specialty tools due to their small size.

Parts of Sunglasses - Pieces

The Best Sunglasses For You

The right pair of sunglasses is the one that effectively protects your eyes, feels comfortable to wear and looks great every time you slip them on. At Tmbr, we offer a wide range of options that deliver the style and performance you’re looking for. Find an assortment of men’s and women’s sunglasses, from sport-ready acetate shades to fashion-forward wood frames and everything in between. Order today for fast shipping and assured quality.