What better accessory for all of your lawn work and extra summer jobs than a pair of expensive designer sunglasses?

As summer's heat marches on, you can certainly look cool in these sizzling shades.

And if you can blend fashionable frames with lenses that promote optimum optical health, you'll actually be as smart as you look.

When considering which sunglasses to buy, savvy shoppers should remember that eye health is the focal point.

Everyone knows ultraviolet radiation from the sun can wreak havoc on your skin, but many forget UV rays can also damage your eyes .

"Your eyes can get sunburned," says Susan Welsh, spokesperson for the Vision Council of America . For maxium protection, Welsh says, "the frame of your sunglasses should offer protection all the way around, to cover the sides of your eyes."

July is UV Safety Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology , The National Health Museum and several universities, such as Washington University in St. Louis, are doing their part to spread the word.

In addition to sunburn, research shows UV radiation can contribute to various vision disorders that may not show up until later in life, such as cataracts and even eye cancer.

Prevent Blindness America recommends selecting sunglasses with lenses that filter out 99% to 100% of UV rays; reduce glare (which causes squinting and can lead to eye fatigue and facial wrinkles); are comfortable to wear; and do not distort colors.

While everyone is at risk for ocular sun damage, PBA says the risk is higher for people on certain medicine such as birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers, which increase the eye's sensitivity to light. Also, people who have had eye surgery and those who spend long hours in the sun are at heightened risk.

Experts say your next pair of sunglasses should also have polarized lenses , which are designed to combat glare. To ensure the proper UV protection, buy your shades from a reputable source, warns Welsh. It is better to purchase from a professional than someone off the street, she points out.

And for those who already need vision correction, photochromic lenses -- clear eyeglasses that darken when exposed to sunlight -- are a convenient and popular choice. With recent technological advances, they turn darker much more rapidly than earlier versions.

However, photochromic lenses are not always the perfect solution. Some complain they can become too dark, especially in overcast conditions when not as much shading is needed. Other say they don't darken enough, such as when driving in a car, where windows block most of the UV signal.

Catching Your Eye

Be it for style, status or health, 86% of respondents in a survey of 100,000 people conducted by VCA's VisionWatch said they wear sunglasses. About 90% of the units sold cost less than $50 -- and most of those were purchased at a grocery or convenience store.

But if you seek a higher-quality pair, or just want to stand out, there are countless other options.

To watch Cherella Cox's video take of this column, click here .

Check out fashion magazines for advice on which styles are best for your head shape, or if you're in in New York City, stroll down Madison Avenue or 5th Avenue for inspiration from high-end sunglasses boutiques.

On the West Coast, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is a classic spot to lay down some serious cash on a star-worthy pair. And if you're near Santa Cruz, be sure to pop by retailer Bucci , founded by Robert Bucci in 1979 (not to be confused with Gucci). Bucci claims to offer the most customizable sunglasses on the planet.

Kriya Bahn, 27, an administrative assistant at Bucci, says, "Designers will always be popular, because they are the cutting edge in fashion." To stay at the forefront of fashion, "we tailor our glasses to what's popular and to what people like."

Bahn says people choose Bucci for style and status, and attributes the high price tags to both the quality of the product and the material used.

However, while Bucci sunglasses can ring in at a few hundred dollars, other designer sunglasses can cost upward of $700. (Meanwhile, the nationwide average cost of nonprescription sunglasses is $18.72, down from $19.02 in 2005, according to VCA's VisionWatch report. )

Focus on Style

For the status-struck, online shopping can zap a pair of designer sunglasses to any ZIP code, all from the comfort of your air-conditioned home.

For exclusive eyewear, Neiman Marcus ' Sunglass Shop is a quintessential site. There you will find trendy Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana shades.

These eye-catching, overstated Bling Logo Sunglasses by Fendi, for instance, retail for $600 and feature a silvertone logo studded with clear crystals. Another showstopper, at $500 a pair, is Roberto Cavalli's sparkling Maia 152S.

For the sporty type, Oakley's wearable electronic sunglasses fit the bill.

The wireless-enabled O Rokr shades allow you to talk on your Bluetooth phone and listen to music while doing just about any outdoorsy activity.

Maia by Roberto Cavalli

The nostalgic shopper may even find the perfect pair of vintage sunglasses at Toronto-based Spectacle . The Web site does not offer a direct link to its vintage line, but an article in Canada's Now magazine says that Spectacle's "collection of dead stock (meaning old-school but never worn) is a must-see."

If you don't want to splurge at retail outlets, EyeSave.com and Smart Bargains.com have top-of-the-line brands at a discount, including these offerings from Gucci and many other designers. eBay also sells designer sunglasses at a fraction of their original price.

July is definitely a month to be outside and enjoying the Good Life. But while you're in the sun, heed the experts' advice about UV damage and don't forget the designer shades. Protecting yourself never looked so good.

Enjoy the Good Life? Email us with what you'd like to see in future articles.
Research assistance was provided by Lindsay Frost.

If you liked this article you might like

Millennial, Never Lose Sight of Who You Are: Ashley Fox, Financial Educator

Millennial, Never Lose Sight of Who You Are: Ashley Fox, Financial Educator

A Young Wealth Builder Falls and Recoups it All Like a Queen

A Young Wealth Builder Falls and Recoups it All Like a Queen

Dengue Fever Vaccine Suspension Criticized by Drugmaker Sanofi

Dengue Fever Vaccine Suspension Criticized by Drugmaker Sanofi

Can Canola Oil Give You Alzheimer's Disease?

Can Canola Oil Give You Alzheimer's Disease?

Volkswagen Exec Gets 7 Years in Jail for Diesel Scandal

Volkswagen Exec Gets 7 Years in Jail for Diesel Scandal