Saturday, September 6, 2014

In Search of the Perfect Sunglasses

September may seem an odd time to write about sunglasses, but my friend, Sid, has pointed out that seniors should protect their eyes with sunglasses all year long. Also, in case you didn’t notice, I was on posting hiatus all summer while I was in housing (and Internet) limbo. That’s when one of the morning TV shows ran a feature on sunglasses.

The hosts modeled a variety of designs, from aviators to oversized “glamour” styles. I recognized many of them as looks I’ve worn over the years. Some dated back to the sixties and early seventies and could best be described as retro-hippie. Others were inspired by celebrities who popularized them via publicity shots for a hit movie or in a “selfie” posted on Instagram.

The TV segment made me realize that the needs I have now in sunglasses are vastly different from what I looked for in my earlier years. While I'm attracted to ones that are stylish, I’ve reached the “function vs. form” stage of my life. It’s not important for me to look trendy. What’s essential is that I don’t trip or bump into things when I’m wearing them and that I’m not blinded by the midday sun. There are a few additional requirements that I look for in the perfect sunglasses.

One thing I can’t stand in any type of glasses is rims that block vision clarity. I don’t want to keep looking to the side to see what’s there when it’s actually the frames that are distracting me. Likewise, I don’t want to have to keep tipping my head up or down so the upper edge isn’t smack in the middle of the wine label I’m trying to read. I’m not a bobble-head doll.

A related pet peeve is openings on the sides of sunglasses that let glare in. This means that some amount of wrap-around is in order. But at our age, we’re no Bono. We’re not even Bono-wannabes. Our mantra is “everything in moderation.” Well, everything except wine, that is.

Speaking of age, bifocals are important, even in sunglasses, but they shouldn’t be visibly bi. I want to wear the same pair when I’m reading a book by the pool as I do when I’m driving. If I need two separate pairs, I’m bound to get them mixed up. I’ll be wondering why I have to hold the book so far away to read the print and why I have to lean over the steering wheel to see what’s in front of my car. I’ve done dual-pairs-on-dueling-leashes before and I almost strangled myself more than once. It wasn’t pretty.

Also along the lines of dual functions, the automatic transition from outdoors to indoors would be helpful. We make plenty of trips to the bathroom at our age. A quick changeover from sunlight to a darker room would be a plus, since we won’t always have time to take off our sunglasses before we head to the loo. If you’ve ever sneezed when looking into the sun, you know what I’m talking about.

Moving on to cosmetic issues, the sunglasses must be light enough so they don’t leave a ridge on the bridge of my nose, or skin flaps on its sides. My mother had those marks from wearing her regular glasses all the time. When working indoors, I check my nose in the mirror several times a day. If I see even a hint of a ridge or a flap, I massage in some Nivea and take the glasses off for a spell. I’m not vain enough to carry a mirror around outside, so my sunglasses will have to prevent this problem on their own merit.

Those of us of a certain age need sunglasses of moderate size, regardless of whatever is the current trend. They can’t be too big. We’re not Sophia Loren or Elton John, after all. And they can’t be too small. We’re also not Yoko Ono or Benjamin Franklin. The best way to be sure you’re picking a “moderate” size is to lay out a group of glasses that meet all the other above requirements. Then throw out the largest and the smallest ones. What’s left should be acceptable.

Finally, the perfect sunglasses must be affordably priced without doing one of those “buy-one-get-second-pair-at half-off” deals that usually wind up costing more than twice what buying just one should cost. I’m not looking for something from the dollar store. I just don’t want the cost eating into my wine budget. After all, not even a perfect pair of sunglasses is worth giving up a nice bottle of Chianti Classico.

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