Sunglasses are a simple, scientifically designed apparatus used to keep UV light from damaging the eye. The eye has many components sensitive to sunlight, and can be easily damaged without protection. Sunglass lenses are UV-coated, and can have a wraparound feature to prevent peripheral light from getting in. There are several different brands and several different types of lenses suited for different environments, and anyone concerned about the health of their eyes should consider purchasing a pair.
Your eyes are obviously one of the most-used parts of your body, but which are considered the least, largely because you can’t see them (not without a mirror)! A lot of times, we simply take the health of our eyes for granted, not thinking about the many ways we could be causing trauma to our vision just through apathy and complacency, but there are more dangers around than you may think. The eye is a complex and sensitive organ, and in order to function properly, it must be protected from overexposure to light.
How The Sun Damages Eyes
We may not think about it too much when we’re squinting or using our hand to shade the upper half of our face because of the glare of the sun, but the truth is, we may be doing serious damage to our eyes. Like the skin, the eyes are susceptible to UV radiation, and the eye is a complex organ with several different components that can be affected in different ways. UV rays affect the eye immediately by going through the cornea, the clear covering on the front of the eye.
Bloodshot or swollen eyes, or hypersensitivity to light are among the more common short-term effects of overexposure to sunlight. Enough exposure can cause a condition called photokeratitis, commonly referred to as “sunburn of the eye.” Symptoms of photokeratitis include irritability, bloodshot eyes, a feeling of “grit” in the eye as though someone has thrown sand in it, extreme sensitivity to light and tearing up. In most cases, these are acute effects that rarely become chronic conditions.
However, repeated and constant exposure can do serious and long-lasting damage to the eye. The more overexposure to UV rays happens, the more likely the effects will move past the cornea and into the lens of the eye, the skin of the eyelid, and the retina. Damage to these regions can result in developing cataracts early in life, macular degeneration, or growths in the eye. In extreme cases, skin cancers may develop. Because of the sensitivity of the delicate structures that surround them, these cancers are often difficult to treat.
Needless to say, you don’t want to have to deal with any of this, and it can all be prevented by using protection for your eyes, the most common of which are sunglasses.
How Do Sunglasses Work?
For an inexpensive, simple, and purely mechanical device, sunglasses provide lots of benefits. Sunglasses are often non-prescription spectacles whose lenses are tinted, cut, and designed to partially block or screen out UVA and UVB rays from sunlight. The basic reason people purchase sunglasses is to prevent overexposure from light sources (typically the sun, but there are forms of safety sunglasses used in instances like welding).
Sunglasses are often worn like prescription lenses, however, so variants are available, like wrap-around sunglasses which are form-fitting to the skin. These have the advantage of protecting peripheral vision the way flat-fronted sunglasses cannot.
The Science Behind Sunglasses
Sunglasses were conceived and developed specifically for use in mitigating light exposure. The best sunglasses have some important design features. Sunglasses have a UV coating added to the lenses, which is the first line of defense against harmful sunlight rays. They will often have labels indicating how much UVA and UVB rays they block out as a percentage (look for 100 per cent where possible), and how much visible light they block out too, which is usually 60 to 70 per cent. Tinting is not a factor in how much UV protection the glasses provide. Lighter-tinted glasses can have just as much UV protection as darkly-tinted glasses, depending on the brand and make.
There are also various coatings applied to the lenses for added protection. Mirror coatings use reflection as a means to keep sunlight from entering the eye, resulting in less squinting and eye strain. Anti-reflective coating keeps reflections from polluting your clear vision through the lens. Finally, there are polarized lenses, preferred by skiers, boaters, and outdoorsmen. Polarized lenses are designed to block out polarized light, which is the bright glare that reflects off of snow or bodies of water on particularly clear days, and while they don’t block out all the harmful UV rays coming from polarized light, they greatly reduce the glare and the hazard it can do when driving or boating.
Reasons to Wear Sunglasses
If you look at movies and popular media, sunglasses are cool. There are many trendy sunglasses brands out there, and getting yourself a pair of cool sunglasses to round out your ensemble may be reason enough. Eye protection, though, is the most important reason to wear sunglasses.
UV light protection keeps your eyes from the risk of any of the problems listed above. Keeping UV light out, aside from making it easier to see, helps prevent physical damage to your eyes from concentrated light. Snow glare protection prevents snow blindness,” and UV rays become more intense the higher you go. This is why ski goggles are wrap-around style; being at heights means that light getting in will be dangerous.
The best sunglasses protect your eyes in novel and convenient ways. For instance, transition glasses respond to the intensity of the ambient light, automatically tinting the lenses to suit exposure. This makes it easier to see in the dimmer lights of the sunrise and sunset. Prescription TrueDark® glasses are also available which not only block sunlight, but also junk light coming from sources like smartphones and computer screens.
Between looking cool and helping some of your most important organs stay healthy, recommending buying a set of the best sunglasses is crystal clear. In all outdoor environments, the best sunglasses will protect you from all of the unseen hazardous effects of sunlight on your eyes, and with innovations like prescription TrueDark glasses, Daylights sunglasses, transition lenses and other protections from sunglasses brands, there is no shortage of selection. Daylights Sunglasses and other options are available from TrueDark. Click here to learn more.