The trend in this summer’s sunnies? Safety first

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was on board with the trend at Wimbledon in June.Credit:Karwai Tang

Lovers of peripheral vision and UV protection rejoice: when it comes to 2019's sunglasses, big is back.

"They were a fashion statement, but they didn't give you the protection you need," says Stig Engelbreth Hansen, global head of product design at Specsavers, of the tiny styles spotted on Instagram influencers and ill-equipped beachgoers over the past two summers.

Instead, trend forecasters are predicting key shapes which are "extremes": over-sized frames, and chunky designs. If you swan through spring looking like you could be about to attend a Halloween party as Jackie Kennedy at any moment, you are doing it right.

Hansen says the biggest mistake people make when choosing sunglasses is avoiding risk, noting that people can afford to be more adventurous with sunglasses than regular prescription glasses, as they don't wear them all the time.

"I do think people can go a bit too safe, and when I say people, I mean men," he says. "Sunglasses are a place where you can be a bit more playful."

Beyond "big", other key trends for the season include brown and neutral frame colours, pink-tinted lenses and more adventurous shapes, notably the cat eye.

Channel Jackie Kennedy on a 1960s Grecian holiday with an oversized, tortoiseshell frame.Credit:Getty

"If larger sunglasses are coming back in fashion, that is really welcome news for us," says Anita Dessaix, chair of Cancer Council Australia's public health committee.

Dessaix says failing to wear sunglasses in an Australian summer can have a variety of health implications.

"In the short-term, a lot of people have had the experience of irritation, inflammation of the eye and excessive blinking when their eye has been exposed to UV radiation for too long," she says.

"The long-term is the timeframe we are more concerned with. The area around the eye is extremely sensitive, and we want to ensure maximum protection of that eye area; skin cancer, in particular, is top of mind there."

In Australia, sunglasses are categorised and labelled according to the Consumer Goods (Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacles) Safety Standard 2017. Cancer Council Australia recommends sunglasses with a lens category of two or higher. These are generally characterised by a darker lens tint, although Dessaix says consumers shouldn't assume that darker glasses necessarily meet that standard.

"If someone is really concerned with making sure they have maximum eye protection for the eye area, they need to be checking the label."

When selecting sunglasses, although she concedes "fashion does come into it" and everyone might not want to be wearing the recommended wraparound styles, Dessaix says frames which sit close to the face are a good option. However, she says, if you do choose fashion over function, there are other things you can do to remain safe in the sun this summer.

"From our point of view, that's why you shouldn't just be relying on just sunglasses [for sun protection]. In recognition of the broader Australian environment that we live in, sunglasses should be used in conjunction with other protective measures like protective clothing, using sunscreen and broad-brimmed hats."

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