To many people, sunglasses are purely a fashion item. A simple piece of plastic or metal to wear in the summer, maybe even just to be worn on top of the head and never used. If they are worn over the eyes it is very often just for the aesthetic, and if they help protect the eyes then it is an added bonus. As well as looking great, designer sunglasses have many health benefits. Elliot Levine MD, an ophthalmologist at Piedmont, says, “There’s definitely a fashion element to sunglasses that people look for, but there are health benefits to wearing sunglasses as well.”
In a 2012 survey, almost half of Americans polled did not own a pair of sunglasses, and less than 50% of the 10,000 in the survey did not recognize the health benefits of sunglasses.
Nowadays, we no longer neglect our skin in the sun. SPF suntan lotion is an essential component for vacations, beach days, or working outside. What is still neglected by a surprisingly large number of people are eyes. Eyes are sensitive, and prolonged exposure to the sun on an unprotected eye can lead to many health issues, from short term to life-threatening:
- Cancer – Skin cancer now affects around 3.3 million Americans every year. Shockingly, around 5-10% of all skin cancers are in the eye. It is important to wear sunglasses as often as possible in order to lower the risk of skin cancer. UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses can help to provide this protection. The skin around the eyes is also incredibly susceptible to damage from the sun. Overexposure to UV rays can also cause conjunctival cancer, which stems from the membrane lining around the eyelid.
- Cataracts – Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness for people worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 900,000 people are blind because of cataracts. Cataracts can be triggered by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. If sunglasses are not worn and the eyes are unprotected, cloudy areas can form and cause varying levels of blindness. The Glaucoma Research Foundation has established a link between UV rays and cataracts. Again, sunglasses with 100% UV protection can lower the risk of cataracts.
- Macular Degeneration – The macula is a part of the retina. It can degenerate over time and cause blurred vision and, in some cases, blindness. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness, especially in people sixty and over. The macula contains millions of light-sensing cells, and too much unprotected sun can contribute to this condition. According to recent research, certain types of the UV rays are a significant risk factor to macular degeneration.
It stands to reason that on a bright sunny day, clarity of vision may decrease. The brightness of the sun can cause the eyes to strain, which in turn leads to headaches, irritability, and fatigue. This is the last thing anyone wants; sunglasses can be a great aid in prevention. Olympic Eyewear is a wholesaler of sunglasses out of SLC that provide fashionable discount sunglasses that make the perfect accessory for the summer look. They say the ability to see more and without strain improves the ability to socialize and have fun outdoors.
It is not just in sunny environments that sunglasses can and should be worn, however. Sand and debris can get into unprotected eyes and cause irritation. Sunglasses are crucial in the snow, when skiing for example. Snow blindness is a condition where reflections of the UV rays from the white snow on the ground can burn the cornea. Sunglasses can and should, therefore, be worn all year round.