They are not just to look good
Medical professionals and sports coaches recommend wearing sunglasses in sunny conditions to protect the eyes from intense sunlight, but few people really know why is that so necessary.
Good vision is an important asset that needs permanent protection and care to delay its deterioration caused by ageing and external factors. Exposure to excessive sunlight can cause substantial damage to your eyes for several reasons, which is why wearing sunglasses is a wise decision.
Moreover, properly chosen sunglasses can be a stylish and aesthetically pleasing accessory that can nicely complement a comfortable summer outfit. However, when choosing a pair of sunglasses, make sure to avoid cheap ones, this is not just about the latest designer brand it is more about getting the best possible lens for protecting your eyes.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light is not your friend
Sunlight is not just yellow or white light. It is a combination of several components; some of which can cause harm to your eyes, while others are non-aggressive and (fairly) safe.
UV light is the component of sunlight that causes the most damage to your eyes because it is intensive light radiation. Other sunlight constituents, such as infrared light or blue light, are significantly more “eye friendly”, which is why most sunglasses types do not eliminate them. There are two types of ultraviolet light that are of immediate concern, UV-A and UV-B; the distinction is not strictly important when choosing the right pair of sunglasses because both are almost equally damaging to the eyes.
Many people may have heard about the negative properties of UV light because of its potential to cause severe sunburn and skin cancer such as melanoma. However, the eyes are even more delicate and sensitive than the skin, and there is no sun protective lotion invented for them. UV light can damage the retina or the cornea, but also other components of the eyes. This damage is often slow to manifest and is cumulative over time, the long term neglect of the eye leading to significant sight deterioration in later life.
The retina is located in the back of the eye, and it is a portion of the eye that receives the light and sends that information through the optic nerve to the brain for interpretation, which is what we call “seeing”. Ignoring the advice to wear sunglasses in sunny conditions causes the retina to become exposed to aggressive UV light, which can lead to its deterioration and increase the chances of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is an eye disease caused mostly by ageing and it involves the degeneration and alteration of a certain portion of the retina. It ultimately progresses towards blindness and research has shown that chronic exposure to sunlight can accelerate the process.
Other conditions aggravated by prolonged exposure to sunlight without sunglasses are cataracts and a painful temporary condition called photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness. The former is caused by glare or light reflected from surfaces such as snow or the metallic surface of cars.
Cutting our UV with sunglasses
Although most sunglasses eliminate UV rays to some degree, you should aim for products that eliminate between 97 and 100 percent of all UV light. Choosing cheaper or improperly manufactured sunglasses may cause you vision problems in the future, so don’t be excessively enthusiastic about saving money when it comes to high-quality sunglasses and their attributes.
You should wear sunglasses even if it is overcast outside, because the most aggressive and intense of all UV rays eventually do penetrate through the clouds and reach your eyes. Sunglasses that offer up to 100 percent UV protection also protect the skin surrounding your eyes, which are a particularly delicate area of the facial skin.
High-quality brands also offer sunglasses with additional attributes, which further increase the protection level. For example, choosing sunglasses with high quality lenses can significantly improves the quality of vision and prevents small image abnormalities or alterations. Polarized lenses remove a significant portion of the glare, which is light reflected by water, snow or cars.
Although UV protection level is the most important attribute of high-quality sunglasses, protection from glare may also be a significant advantage for drivers, ski or snowboard enthusiasts and other people exposed to environments with a significant amount of reflected light.
When light bounces of smooth surfaces such as snow, ice or car windows, it can be difficult to concentrate on the task, which increases the potential for accidents. The use of polarised lenses helps to reduce the effects of glare, giving greater clarity of vision and reducing the strain on the eyes.
Wearing sunglasses with maximum UV and glare protection is a great way to preserve the health of your eyes and prevent common diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts or photokeratitis. Wearing sunglasses can be very beneficial during flights that involve a transition between different time zones, which can disrupt your internal biological clock that depends on the light intensity, and cause excessive fatigue and a lack of productivity.
Sunglasses can help you adjust gradually to the new time zone by removing the excessive light. Don’t hesitate to choose a pair of stylish sunglasses that offer UV filtering and additional protection such as anti-glare or other attributes such as being impact resistant.