Story by Jacquie Clancy

Illustration by Madison van Rijn

We spend a lot of time focusing on how to keep ourselves healthy and happy, but we may not be paying enough attention to protecting one of the most important parts of our body – our eyes. One way to treat your eyes well is with a visit to the optometrist’s for a check up; but with Summer coming and the sun shining bright, it’s important to focus on how you can protect your vision every day, and of course, look good doing it.

Dr. Lorne Berman has been an optometrist for 25 years and practices at Rexdale Eye Care in Etobicoke. Dr. Berman graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and serves as a committee member for the Ontario Association of Optometrists. He advises that “quality sunglasses are the best way to protect your eyes all year round. Although in Canada the sun is not as intense in the Winter, we can get a lot of reflection off of snow.”

This means that treating yourself to a high quality pair of sunglasses is not only a nice addition to your wardrobe, but also great for keeping your eyes healthy. When on the lookout for a new pair of shades, Dr. Berman explains that the most important factor is the Ultraviolet (UV) protection that the lenses provide. UV rays from the sun can add to the development of cataracts and other vision problems as you age, so by following Dr. Berman’s advice, you will help keep your eyes happy and healthy for life.

“A 100% UV filter protects your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. An interesting fact is that most people think that the tint colour plays a role in UV protection but it does not. A UV 400 tint blocks the harmful rays but is clear and can be used on any prescription lens,” states Dr. Berman. In other words, a darker lens on sunglasses doesn’t equal better protection against the harmful UV rays of the sun. When looking for a new pair of shades, make sure you ask about the UV protection before you make any purchases.

UV protection isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing a pair of sunglasses. You also need to think about the different tints out there, and there are a few different options. “The tint colour is for comfort and glare. Neutral grey and green do not distort the colours that we see, but the brown and orange lenses do,” says Dr. Berman. Before you hand over the credit card, make sure you try the sunglasses on for a few minutes. You want to make sure they not only look good on you, but that you can see comfortably with them and won’t be distracted by the glare or colour of the tint you’ve chosen. Dr. Berman also points out that “larger frames give better coverage”, so those giant aviators don’t just make you look good, they also offer more protection to your peepers than the smaller frames.

Finally, sunglasses aren’t the accessory that you should skimp out on. Even though it seems like you can get a pair of sunglasses at any mall kiosk or convenience store that look like this season’s trendiest frames, you will be better off handing over the money for the real deal. “A quality lens is free from distortion. Cheap lenses can be warped or poorly manufactured causing headaches and eye strain,” Dr. Berman explains. If you pick up a high quality pair of shades, you will want to take good care of them, not only to get your money’s worth, but because any scratches you get on the lenses can affect your vision by blurring or distorting what you see.

Just in time for the sunshine, May is Vision Health Month! In support of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Dr. Berman and other optometrists are participating in the Vision Health Month Toonie campaign. This campaign encourages participating optometrists and their patients to donate and support the CNIB with each and every eye exam conducted during the month of May. You can learn more about the CNIB and how you can donate as part of the Toonie campaign or the Shades of Fun fundraising campaign during the month of Mayhere.

Dr. Berman’s office is located at 123 Rexdale Blvd., Etobicoke ON. You can reach the office at 416-743-4426 or visit the website at