Made in the Shade

June 2016
Written By: 
Harold Rohrback

Sunglasses can be fashionable, but don’t overlook their protective powers

One of the hottest fashion trends on the Grand Strand is happening right before our eyes. It’s time to stop reaching for those oh-so-predictable sunglasses in the worn out case that you picked up at the drugstore many years ago. Whether you’re strolling the MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet or walking the beach in Cherry Grove, a nice pair of shades can make your outfit sizzle while providing necessary protection.

Having a top-of-the-line pair of sunglasses is great, but when you need separate pairs for the boat, beach, work, driving, fishing, golfing and in every color under the sun, it’s not always cost effective. Thankfully, almost all companies are now making glasses that protect from the harmful UV rays of the sun at all price levels.

One of the largest sunglass selections in the area is Bass Pro Shop, with prices ranging from $12 to $350. Costa del Mar is the top choice of fishermen, but sunglass department manager Lynn Loughran says that an exclusive brand called NATIVE has become the most popular with Grand Strand locals.

“NATIVE brand combines a polarized lens and sturdy frame in a variety of styles that are comparable in quality with the more expensive designer brands. They look good in shorts on the boat or in a summer dress at a picnic.”

Picking the right pair for the right use can also be a challenge, so here are a few tips depending on your reason for craving shade.

If you are using the sunglasses for driving, you may want to consider a frame of wire or titanium (to reduce the weight) that has a gray or green lens. The darker color will provide better protection from eye strain, but the tradeoff is less contrast and depth perception in low light conditions. Yellow, gold and amber lenses work well in early morning or late evening due to their ability to amplify available light.

Polarized lenses are popular for their superiority in reducing glare, especially at the beach or on the water. Local fishing captain Steve Fennell agrees. “Polarized glasses are critical to being able to see fish, bait and underwater hazards. A good, tight fit is also crucial to keep the wind from watering your eyes while on the water.”

If you’re already wearing glasses or contacts, consider prescription sunglasses. “Since we live at the ocean, I recommend prescription sunglasses to protect against all 3 wavelengths of UV rays which contribute to the formation of cataracts, the aging and wrinkling process of the skin and the potential of skin cancers in and around the eyes,” says Dr. Fouad Allouch of H. Rubin Vision Center.

Whether you’re donning sunglasses to make an outfit, sharpen detail or increase health, today’s many offerings can also be just plain fun.