If you can't wear contacts, they may be your best option for ocular sun protection.

If you need corrective lenses to see but find that you're unable to wear contacts, you might be searching for ways to protect your eyes from the sun. While pulling a hat down low over your frames is one option, it's not all that convenient. Enter prescription sunglasses, which are made, as their name implies, using your existing prescription. The only downside? They can be a splurge. To determine whether or not they're worth the cash, we checked in with an optometrist who shared everything there is to know about these types of frames.

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When it comes to style, the sky is the limit.

These sunglasses can be made with polarized or tinted lenses that are outfitted with your ocular prescription, so you can see near and far while protecting your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet rays and reflective glare. "The frames are usually made of metal, with full frames offering the best protection," explains Vito J. Guario, O.D., an optometrist with All Eyes Optical. "Most sunglasses purchased by patients utilize polarized lenses." This variety of lens is best suited for outdoor activities, like fishing and boating, and comes in a myriad of colors—but virtually every part of the frame can be personalized, so you can choose the pair that speaks to your aesthetic.

Prescription sunglasses have major benefits.

If you have a current eyeglass prescription, you can likely purchase a pair of prescription sunnies, as well—but an even better course of action is to buy both at the same time (ask about two-for-one or cost reduction deals!). Regardless, they're worth the investment, says Dr. Guario, adding that people of all ages, including children and adults with vision issues, only benefit from reducing their eyes' exposure to the sun's damaging rays. Doing so also limits your chance of developing cataracts and macular degeneration, which, says Dr. Guario, has been well documented in medical eye journals. "Prescription sunglasses are very beneficial for eye health," he affirms.

Check in with your eye doctor if you're interested in a pair.

You'll need to schedule a visit with your eye doctor before you can order your own pair, however. "Once your eye-care professional examines your eyes and determines your refractive error (prescription), you may utilize the same prescription for clear glasses or sunglasses," he says. "No separate eye exam is needed." Next, discuss how you're hoping to use them—for sport or pleasure—so your optometrist can outline your options. If you're active, for example, you might want frames that will stay in place during runs or in the water; you can usually opt for additional protection policies in case they become scratched or fall off (check with your vision insurance provider to find out what coverages you have).


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