Strike an impression this summer with the right pair of shades

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As the characters in the hit film The Big Lebowski have shown, sunglasses are an essential part of anyone's wardrobe - even those who are indoors all day at the bowling alley!

While looking cool is a big priority, you have to make sure your sunglasses actually do what they are designed for: protecting your eyes from the sun's rays. This is especially important if you're out and about enjoying family activities in the hot Aussie summer.

What are some of the things to look out for when choosing a pair of specs?

Expensive isn't always better

There are few items where quality doesn't correlate with price, but sunglasses are one of them.

The most high-end designer sunglasses won't necessarily give you the best protection - there are much more affordable options that provide just as much as, or even more, of a barrier against UV rays.

Extremely cheap sunglasses are often useless, however, so go for a decent pair that doesn't break the bank.

Look for the label

All good sunglasses come with a label clearly stating how much of the sun's UVA and UVB rays they block.

Always go for the maximum level of protection - don't settle for anything that blocks less than 99 to 100 per cent of both of these types of rays.

Do polarised lenses help?

Many sunglasses these days come with fancy lens options, some more useful than others.

A type of lens you may have heard about is polarised lenses - these provide additional protection for your eyes by helping to reduce glare from reflection from surfaces such as sand and water.

Remember that just because a pair of sunglasses are polarised, it doesn't mean they have UV protection as well, so don't forget to check the label.