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The Science of Sunglasses: Why Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses, with their many shapes, shades, and styles, have become a wardrobe staple. But more than a fashionable accessory, sunglasses come with eye health benefits. They can protect your vision and help prevent sun-related diseases.

When outdoors, whether driving, lounging by the sea, riding a bike, or mountain hiking, sunglasses help protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, and trigger headaches.

But while shopping for new sunglasses, don’t just opt for the first pair that catches your fancy. Make sure to look for features like 100 percent UV protection, tinting, and polarization.

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the reasons why you should wear sunglasses, whether rain or shine. We’ll also talk about the science behind how sunglasses work. And share with you a quick guide on how to choose the best sunglasses for eye protection. Read on!

Why Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses are more than just another style accessory. They are key to good eye health. Wearing sunglasses outdoors helps reduce eye fatigue and headaches. Plus, they lower the risk of developing sun-related eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts.

Wearing sunglasses also reduces the likelihood of skin cancer by shielding the sensitive skin around the eyes. They also protect your eye from the elements and can help you see clearer.

Let’s take a closer look at why you should always put on a pair of sunglasses outdoors.

sunglasses resting on rooftop overlooking city blocks

1. Lower the Risk of Skin Cancer

The skin around your eyes is very sensitive. It’s easily damaged by the sun’s UV rays. What’s even more alarming is that 10 percent of skin cancers occur in the eyelid.

Wearing UV protected sunglasses will not only shield your eye from sun damage but also your skin. Opt for large, wraparound frames for more coverage.

2. Prevent Cataracts and Glaucoma

Cataracts cause the clouding of the eye lens. Prolonged exposure to the sun can encourage cataract formation. It can also trigger other ocular diseases like glaucoma, pterygium, and photokeratitis.

To prevent these, make sure to wear your sunglasses with complete UV protection. And not just on sunny days. UV rays on cloudy and misty days can also damage the eyes.

3. Reduce Migraines and Headaches

Bright lights, sunny afternoons, and glaring surfaces can trigger migraines and headaches. These can also cause eye strain and fatigue, and make your time outdoors uncomfortable.

Wear sunglasses to block out the bright light. This will help lessen the severity as well as the frequency of headaches and migraines.

4. Aid Healing and Recovery

Your doctor will recommend you wear sunglasses after you’ve undergone corrective eye surgery. Doing so will aid recovery and help you adjust to your new vision faster.

Protective sunglasses will also keep out dust particles and water while your eyes recover. Plus, they will block the sun rays that can easily harm your eyes when they are the most sensitive.

5. Prevent Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is when the small central part of your retina wears off. This can cause severe vision problems and even lead to blindness in certain cases.

Macular degeneration is an age-related condition. But the sun’s UV rays can speed up the process. So, it’s important to protect your retina by wearing sunglasses.

6. Shields Your Eyes from the Elements

Sunglasses benefits also include protection from the elements. Even the tiniest of things, like grains of sand and dust, can scratch your eyes and damage them.

UV rays reflecting off the surface of water and snow can burn the cornea. And windy areas can irritate the eyeball and cause dry eyes.

7. Promote Safer Driving

You may sometimes feel the need to squint or raise your hand to block the sunlight while driving. This could be a safety hazard, especially if the sun’s rays are blinding.

Eye sunglasses with mirror coating or polarization can help you drive safer. They will improve your vision and make driving even in rain and bright sunlight more comfortable.

8. Enhance Clarity of Vision

Sunglasses vision is on the whole clearer and sharper. That’s because polarized lenses lessen the glare and increase colors and contrasts.

Wear sunglasses if you want to spend time near a waterbody or go snow-hiking. They will help you see through the glare. And you’ll be able to observe the intricate details of nature you may have never noted before.

Where Should You Wear Sunglasses?

Whether it’s summer or winter, rainy or sunny, your eyes are always exposed to harmful UV rays. But you don’t have to wear your sunglasses at all times. In fact, wearing them indoors or in dim environments can disrupt your eyes’ ability to adapt to light variations.

That said, wearing sunglasses when you step outdoors is important for your eye health. Winter sunshine, pavement glare, and even sun reflecting on the water can be harmful.

hiker woman wearing sunglasses

So, make sure to carry a pair of sunglasses to the following places.

1. At the Beach

Water and sand at the beach act like a giant, reflective surface. UV damage from too much exposure can cause a host of eye ailments, including keratitis and cataracts.

Additionally, sunglasses will protect your eyes from dust, sand, and even carelessly thrown frisbees and footballs at the beach.

2. While Driving

Always wear your sunglasses while driving. They will protect your eyes from the harmful glare from the road, pavement, or the hood of your car.

Use polarized sunglasses. They will cut out glare and help you to see better even during misty conditions.

3. To the Mountainside

UV intensity increases with altitude. Visiting mountains can hurt your eyes. Snow-covered mountains are the harshest on your eyes. That’s because snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV rays, according to the World Health Organization.

So, make sure to wear sunglasses when skiing and snowboarding. They will also shield your eyes from cold winds and ice particles.

4. Near a Waterbody

Your eyes are exposed to a lot of reflected UV radiation near a waterbody, be it a lake or river. Wearing sunglasses will cut down on harsh UV rays and ease eye strain.

Even water sports like sailing, fishing, and wakeboarding can be harsh to the eye. So, don’t forget to pack a pair of sunglasses when spending weekends at the lake or relaxing by your neighbor’s pool.

5. To the Game

Many people complain of headaches after a day of watching or playing sports. That may be due to a number of reasons—glare, bright outdoors, constant squinting to see clearly.

It’s good to wear sunglasses while watching or playing games. Sunglasses will help you see clearly without squinting, even if it’s very bright.

Best Sunglasses for Eye Protection

The best sunglasses come with features like UV protection, polarization, mirror coating, and tint. Make sure to look for these features when buying new sunglasses. Thanks to them, you’ll not just see more clearly, but also know that your eyes are well-protected.

Let’s take a closer look at these features.

women wearing sunglasses in the light

1. UV Protection

100% UV protection sunglasses will ensure that your eyes get the protection they need when you step outside. The lens will filter out all the harmful sun rays before they reach your eyes.

2. Wraparound Style

The more coverage you get from your sunglasses, the better. Opt for wraparound frames as they minimize the amount of sun rays entering your eyes.

3. Polarized Filter

This feature helps reduce the glare that bounces off smooth surfaces. It can make activities like boating and driving more comfortable for your eyes.

4. Mirror Coating

Mirrored sunglasses are not just trendy. They also reduce the amount of light entering the eyes. They offer greater visual clarity, glare protection, and can resist scratches.

5. Tinting

Different lens tints filter sunlight differently. Brown and amber-tinted lenses offer a warmer hue and help reduce blue light. Gray lenses are more neutral to look through, making them ideal for driving.

How Sunglasses Work

The science behind sunglasses is simple. The lenses act as a barrier to reflect the sun’s UV rays. You can think of them as sunscreen for your eyes.

When light rays reach the lenses, the UV-absorbing coating blocks most of the UV radiation. Mirror and tint coating further absorb all reflecting light, relieving you from squinting.

Sunglasses with polarizing film help combat glare. They absorb the incoming horizontal light, while allowing only the vertical light to pass through.

All these features together safeguard your vision and prevent sun-related diseases. And they make your wanderings in the sun more comfortable.

More Than a Fashion Statement

Sunglasses can add a cool and casual vibe to your summer outfits. They can also help you style your autumn wardrobe better. But they certainly are much more than just a fashion statement.

Sunglasses’ eye protection role is vital. They keep the harmful rays of the sun from reaching your eyes. Plus, they’ll help you see more comfortably even when it’s too sunny or foggy outdoors.

Wearing sunglasses will prevent diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. It will also keep headaches at bay and protect your eyes from dust and wind.

But remember, cheap, low-quality sunglasses do more harm than good to your eyes. It’s always wise to opt for quality sunglasses, even if you have to pay extra for them. Your long-term eye health is worth it, right?

In the end, make sure to pack your sunglasses every time you step out of the door. You’ll make a statement, and more importantly, you’ll protect your eyes.