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Shopping for sunglasses

The poets say that the eyes are a window on the soul.


If we take this philosophical statement for a walk in Phuket almost any day we can link it to an inescapable fact of life here - we live in a very sunny place. When this light reflects off windows, chrome car fittings or the sea it can be a little too bright. One solution is to squint, which in the fullness of time will result in the formation of those crow's-feet wrinkles that make us look older and perhaps wiser!

The alternative of course is to invest in a pair of sunglasses which will allow us to be more comfortable, and at the same time may camouflage our expressions or enhance our looks. These days, sunglasses come in a bewildering range of styles, sizes and shapes and, above all, prices. The truth here is that, if the price looks too good to be true, then it probably is. The models sold in the Shopping for Sunglassesbazaars for two or three hundred baht may look the business - some even copy the style and logo of reputable brands - but the lenses consist of thin pieces of soft plastic with a simple colour tint. They reduce the light reaching the eyes but have no filter protection. As a result the iris does not contract in sunlight and may even enlarge, allowing harmful radiation (ultra-violet is the main culprit) to reach the retina and other internal structures of the eye. Over the years this can cause irreparable damage.

Rule one then is to consult an optician and then to choose a known brand. All such products will have at least 99% protection from "UVA" and "UVB". Thereafter, consider the degree of light-filtering that you need. If you are into sailing or water-skiing or the like then you will want the maximum protection. If you use your sunglasses mainly for driving you probably need less protection - almost all cars sold in Thailand have sun-dim windscreens which will do part of the job. Lenses which are darker obviously block more rays but green or brown tints do a better job of stopping the hard 'blue' light.

Make sure the lenses are large enough to shade the eye completely from all common sun angles. Since you will probably be wearing them for long periods every day, ensure that the frame is light, comfortable and a good fit. Frames that constantly slip down the nose will drive you mad in short order. Always try sunglasses outside the optician's shop before you buy. If you wear prescription glasses the optician can incorporate the correction into the sunglass lenses. Two for the price of one!

After that the choice is up to you. Fashions vary from year to year but the rules of geometry don't change. Here are some tips for choosing frames which will make you look good. It's all about the shape of your face:

  • Triangular faces are best served by frames which are unfussy and light in colour. 
  • Round faces benefit from a narrow frame with a high set temple line.
  • Square and rectangular faces need a matching strong frame which centres the eyes in the lens space.
  • Teardrop and diamond-shaped faces will be balanced by a wide style frame with a strong top bar. 
  • Oval faces (you might say typically Thai) look good with just about any style.

Thereafter, the choice is up to you Some people like to keep their sunglasses on a chain or safety strap so they are always to hand or eye! Make sure you get a decent glasses-case which properly protects the frame in your bag or pocket. Finally, when the lenses need cleaning use a proper lens cloth rather than your shirt-tail. Your choice will then give good service for many years or until you are tempted by a newer model!

Where to buy
Chartage avaliable at:Chartage - Ground floor, 'Srilang Zone' Jungceylon, Patong Beach.
Rodenstock available at: Hor Wan - 2nd floor, Central Festival, Phuket. Tel: +66 (0)76 249586 Hor Wan - Phuket Montri Rd., Phuket Town. Somsak Optic - Rassada Rd., Phuket Town. Tel: +66 (0)76 217437 Uthaisilp Optical - Talang Rd., Phuket Town. Tel: +66 (0)76 211242 Thip U-rai Optical - Karon Rd., Karon. The Optician - Patak Rd., Karon. Pro Optical Phuket - Khoktanod Rd., Karon. Tel: +66 (0)76 333144, +66 (0)76 333358 P & P Optic - Bangla Rd., Patong Beach. Tel: +66 (0)76 341205, +66 (0)76 340227

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