The accessory you didn’t know you needed.

What is one accessory that the world doesn’t know it actually needs? Sunglasses. No, seriously. It only takes one hundred seconds for the sun to do permanent retinal damage if you are staring at it without sunglasses on. I know, I know. You're probably thinking “I don’t stare at the sun.” But it does beg the question, how much damage to our eyes is caused simply by being outside in the sun without sunglasses. And shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to protect them. Let’s dive in and discuss all the benefits of wearing sunglasses and why you should grab them every time you leave home.

Disclaimer: Stay with me, it gets a little boring here because I’m about to educate the hell out of you.

Beautiful Brown eyes

1) The greatest benefit of wearing sunglasses is the prevention of sun related health problems. Prolonged sun exposure, specifically the UV rays, is the cause of many eye related health issues. UV rays are simply invisible rays that are a part of the energy that comes from the sun and there are two types, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the weaker of the two, but also much more damaging due to being more prevalent and having stronger penetration. They make up 95% of the UV radiation that reaches Earth and are nearer in relation to visible light rays. UVA rays can easily pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina of the eye. UVB rays are stronger and affect the corneas, or the clear front part of the eyeballs. This can cause severe irritation, light sensitivity, and lots of tearing.

Wearing sunglasses can help protect you from the following complications: pterygium, skin cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration, and keratitis. Note: I am only mentioning the most common medical complications from UV exposure, not all. 

Pterygium or surfer’s eye is a growth on one or both eyes. It can affect anyone who spends a great deal of time outside. Pterygium is not serious, but the symptom, such as red eye, vision problems, and a constant feeling of something being in your eye, can be annoying.

The skin around our eyes is sensitive, particularly our eyelids, and skin cancer in this area is a major concern. Eyelid malignancies are usually fixed by surgery and follow-up care when discovered and treated early, with the eye and eyelid functioning intact. However, if left untreated, they can be harmful and disfiguring, resulting in tissue damage and blindness. Certain types of skin cancer have the potential to spread to the eye and surrounding area.

Cataracts cloud and yellow the lens of your eye, causing gradual vision loss, and are the most prevalent cause of curable blindness.

Macular degeneration is caused by UV rays that damage the center of the retina. The central region of our retina is the back part of our eye that records what we’re seeing and relays it to our brain.

The risk for all these medical concerns can be lessened by wearing the right pair of sunglasses. Keep reading to find out how to choose the perfect pair.

Headache migraine non-sunglass wearer

2) Migraines and severe headaches can be triggered by bright sunlight. Sunglasses can help to minimize the frequency and intensity of these excruciating events. Even if you don’t suffer from headaches or migraines, wearing sunglasses when outside in the sun can help minimize eyestrain and weariness, allowing you to relax and enjoy your time outside even more.

 Lots of screens

3) In today’s technology-based society, our eyes are constantly being used. According to a study done by the Nielsen Company, the average person spends 11 hours staring at a screen every day. And the truth is, our eyes deserve a break. Sunglasses can provide your eyes with the necessary healing and recovery time needed. If you’ve had any type of corrective eye surgery, such as PRK or LASIK, sunglasses are a must. Light sensitivity is common after these types of surgeries, so be sure to wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Dust snow pollen

4) When you’re outside, your eyes are subject to the elements, like dust, pollen, and sand. Sunglasses help keep all those irritants out of your eyes. And don’t be fooled by winters cold temperatures and overcast days. Being out in the snow doubles your UV exposure. Per the WHO, “snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation, dry beach sand about 15%, and sea foam about 25%.” As a rule of thumb, if you’re outside and its daytime, wear your sunglasses. Your eyes will thank you.

Driving in car on sunny day

5) Scenario time: You’re driving down the road and out of nowhere you’re blinded by the sun’s light. You put your sun visor down and it does nothing. Your still blinded. Here’s where your sunglasses come in. They can help you see better and drive more comfortably and safely when driving in harsh sunlight. And your sun visor becomes a helpful backup.

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory. They help protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays and supply many more benefits. And they are not all created equal. If you’re in the market for a pair of sunglasses that offer ultimate eye protection, there are specific characteristics that you should look for, 100% UV protection and polarization, are number one and two of course. The third characteristic, but just as important as the first two, is lens sizing. Your lenses should cover your entire eye, shielding your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Any part of your eye that is exposed is susceptible to damage. Lastly, take note of how the sunglasses fit on your face. If the frames are too small, they can create pressure which causes migraines and headaches. Double spring hinges are a great option because they offer a snug, comfortable fit for all face sizes.      

Go forth and protect your eyes.

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