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Save Your Eyes-- The 3 Ws for Wearing Sunglasses

March 14, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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Sunglasses not only make you look cool, but they offer a surprising range of health benefits, if you know what to look for. Fortunately we`re making that easier for you, with a few of the "why, what, and whens" of sporting shades:

Q: Why?

A: The number one reason for wearing sunglasses? To protect your eyes!

  • Sunlight contains various wavelengths of UV radiation, all of which can affect your skin and eyes. Exposure to this radiation has been associated with cataracts, macular degeneration, and even cancer of the eye.
  • Sunglasses can reduce headaches and eyestrain, as they keep the pupil from contracting as much, and reduce the light reaching your retina.
  • And, they improve your vision. Our eyes need a certain amount of ambient light to function properly, but sunlight can be too much of a good thing at times. Sunglasses help reduce the amount of light-induced glare and "sun-blindness" that have significant impacts on your visual acuity.

Q: What?

A: What sunglasses are best for you? Ones that offer a variety of qualities.

  • Look for sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection, from both UVA and UVB rays. Glasses that are marked, "UV 400 protection" are also good, because this means they are engineered to block all harmful UV light up to 400 nanometers.
  • Select the lens shade that is right for their purpose. The UV protection coating is clear, so darker sunglasses don`t necessarily mean better protection. Gray, green, and brown lenses tend to be better for driving, while yellow or rose tinted lenses can make distinguishing traffic signals more difficult.
  • Also, for extra safety, select impact-resistant lenses if possible, and be wary of sunglasses that impair peripheral vision, especially when driving.
  • And after all that`s checked off, select sunglasses that are right for your face shape and reflect your personal style.

Q: When?

A: Ok, so now that you have the coolest shades in town - when do you wear them? Well, despite the song, wearing them at night is not recommend, but just about any other time is a good idea. So here are some tips:

  • Keep sunglasses handy anytime you are planning to be outdoors, even for just a few minutes. UV exposure is cumulative over your lifetime, so make it a habit early on - this means kids need eye protection too.
  • Lovers of winter sports can tell you that even in the dead of January, you can get a painful sunburn. That means sunglasses should be worn year-round. Keep a second "winter" pair that has a lighter tint, which will be better for the changing light conditions of the cold season.
  • Lastly, wear them anytime you need to reduce glare and/or protect your eyes from wind or debris. Sunglasses can keep contacts from drying out, reduce abrading wind-blown particles, and allow from safer, glare-free vision while driving, skiing, or snow mobiling.

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Sunglasses display image courtesy of Kippleboy and Wikimedia Commons.

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