How to choose the best sunglasses

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) Sunglasses are not just a summer necessity, doctors say it's important to wear them all year to protect against the sun's harmful rays.

Brittany Bronson never heads outdoors without her sunglasses but admits she's not focused on eye safety.

"I probably should look more at how they're gonna protect me, but it's definitely more of a fashion statement, what they look like, are they gonna look good on my face," she said.

"It's basically like wearing sunscreen but for your eyes," said Dr. Andrea Tooley, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Tooley also says sunglasses are important because the sun's harmful rays can damage the eyes.

"They can cause cataracts over time, skin cancer around our eyes and eyelids, and then also cancers on the surface of our eyes, they increase the risk of macular degeneration," she said.

Tooley says it's vital to look at the label and choose sunglasses that offer 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB radiation. And darker lenses don't always mean you are getting more protection. Bigger sunglasses are better because they cover more of your eyes and the skin around them. That's what Bert Kreischer prefers.

"I need sunglasses that literally cover my eyes. Too small sunglasses and I'm seeing around the sides of them," Kreischer said.

Tooley also says you don't have to spend a lot of money to get the protection you need.

"Very expensive designer sunglasses might not offer the UV protection that you're looking for," she said, "and you can actually find 100 percent UV protection in cheap sunglasses that you pick up at a corner drug store."

Shades are not just important on sunny days, but they're also important on cloudy days when damaging UV rays can still reach your eyes. You can double-check UV protection in your sunglasses at many optical shops with a UV light meter, which can test how well your glasses block rays.