Finally people realized they could still enjoy the sun- they just had to get wise. So nowadays no right-thinking person “lays out” without slathering his or her exposed epidermal regions with enough sun-blocking salve to negate the effects of a 20-megaton blast.

Same thing with sunglasses. Given the weight of scientific evidence linking cataracts with long-term exposure to ultraviolet light- particularly UVB, the part of the ultraviolet spectrum that includes the shortest wavelengths of light that reach Earth’s surface–– you’re a fool not to wear sunglasses, especially during the summer months, when you chances of getting bombarded are greatest.

The good news is, most sunglasses do an adequate job of shielding your eyes from both UVB rays and their less harmful cousin, UVA. According to a 1988 test of 180 pairs by Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports magazine, most $2 models give you as much protection as those costing $200.

The issue with sunglass, then, is more than just protection–– it’s the kind of attitude you want to affect. When you step out of a climate-controlled office building and don a pair of shades, you’re hiding more than just your eyes–– you’re changing your character. Indoors, you may be just the guy in the mailroom; outside, behind your shades, you can be Tom Cruise. Summer is about seeing and being seen––cool sunglasses are the key to that equation.

In an effort to get to the bottom of optical chic for the summer of 1990, the Phoenix recently conducted a survey of local sunglasses shops (for more on the methodology, see page 1574 of the NYNEX Yellow Pages, Boston Area 1990). You’ll be happy to know those awful Ray-Ban rip-offs with the flexible, fluorescent shanks are out. Very out. It took a year, says Jim Donahue, of SunVision, in Boston’s Lafayette Place, but people finally came to a realization: “They’re tacky.”

What’s in this year? Lots of traditional looks, particularly with tortoiseshell. You can also expect to see fewer weird geometric shapes in lenses––the round look is most popular. And the new cutting edge is called, appropriately, Blade, a very California line of one-piece-lens, visor-like by Oakley.

What follows is a breakdown of five local brands local shop managers are pushing for the summer.

Popular Style(s)Bausch and Lomb
The Ray-Bam Wayfarer. The quintessential shades for beach, barbeque, and strolling around town, as well as the bestselling model on the market. Although black and bright colors have been popular in the past, tortoiseshell is expected to be the look of the summer.
Robert Laroche
A brand for making the scene on Newbury Street and in the Back Bay. Roundish lenses are very in. So are metal fronts and plastic shanks in tortoiseshell and various colors.
The original cat’s-eye-lens style, pioneered by Vuarent, is back in vogue. So is the traditional aviator model.
The Graphite Wrap- a thin graphite frame that wraps around the temple to shade peripheral vision. Available in black and “neon” colors.
The Frogskins, a Ray-Ban knockoff in colors that look like, well, frog skin; also in the Blade series (Slit Lens, Razor Blade, Mumbo, and other models), which features a one-piece  visor-like lens that wraps toward the temples to shade peripheral vision, in fluorescent and traditional colors.
PriceAbout $50$150 and upAround $60$125 to $135$35 to $50 for Frogskins, $66 to $120 for Blades
UV protection100 percent$15 extra for 100 percent UV filler100 percent (plus blue-light and infrared filtration)100 percent100 percent; some models available with reflective “iridium” coating to enhance contrast
AvailableMost optical shopsFor Eyes Optical, 330 Newbury Street, Boston; other high-end optical shopsMost optical shopsMost optical shopsSunVision, the Arsenal Mall, Watertown, and Lafayette Place, Boston
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