When it’s bright outside, it’s an automatic reaction to put on a pair of sunglasses.
They make it more comfortable and easier to see without having to strain your eyes or squint. But your favourite shades offer much more than just visual comfort.
In this article, we list the 13 benefits of wearing sunglasses and why they’re a crucial part of your daily carry – all year round.
The 13 benefits of wearing sunglasses
#1 UV protection
Hands down, UV protection is the most crucial benefit of wearing sunglasses. Invisible and stealthy, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be extremely damaging to your skin and eyes.
In an article by the UK Met Office, they report that your eyes are 10 times more sensitive to UV light than your skin. As UV levels fluctuate throughout the year (not just in summer), your eyes risk being exposed to the damaging frequencies of UVA and UVB rays.
By wearing legitimate, good-quality sunglasses, you can protect your eyes and prevent long-term eye conditions such as cataracts, retinal damage or premature macular degeneration.
To ensure your sunglasses are fully UV protective, check for the UV400 rating or CE mark which is usually printed on the inner surface of the temples (arms). This means the lenses meet the minimum criteria for sufficient UV protection.
#2 Reduce visible light
Unlike UV, visible light is the spectrum of sunlight we can actually see. All year round, visible light is usually what makes you reach for your sunglasses when it’s bright outside.
Wearing sunglasses with dark-tinted lenses reduces the amount of visible light entering your eyes which makes it more comfortable to see. The darker the lenses, the less visible light is transmitted. This reduces the strain put on your eyes, preventing you from squinting to see in the bright sun.
But don’t be fooled.
Darker lenses don’t provide better UV protection. In fact, very dark lenses can have no UV protection at all, especially if they aren’t legitimate. Behind dark sun lenses, your pupils dilate to allow more light in to allow you to see; a bit like a darkened room at night. Without UV protection, dark lenses expose your eyes to even more UV light. Always be sure to check for proper UV protection, regardless of how dark the lenses are.
#3 Reduce eye strain
During long periods of visual focus, bright sunlight puts strain on your eyes. On lengthy car journeys, visual fatigue poses the threat of complacency, delayed reactions or tiredness.
By wearing sunglasses, you can help alleviate the effects of strong sunlight on your eyes and make it easier to focus on the road ahead. At the end of your drive, your eyes will inevitably be far less tired and may have prevented any potential incidents.
If you spend long periods out in the sun, be aware of the strain put on your eyes. To prevent that ‘frazzled’ feeling at the end of a long day in the sun, wearing sunglasses is a great way to alleviate visual fatigue. Another consideration is to use prescription sun lenses which will additionally correct your vision too.
#4 Beat glare
Depending on the kind of sunglasses you pick, their lenses can do more than offer protection from UV debris, headaches, and even indications of early ageing.
Unlike regular sun lenses, polarised lenses can block glare. This is when light reflects off flat shiny surfaces such as water, becomes condensed and makes it incredibly difficult to see properly.
Polarised lenses contain an in-built filter which blocks reflected glare, giving you smoother more consistent vision. Glare reduction is a secondary benefit to UV protection and is an optional upgrade to non-polarised lenses.
For tasks such as driving, cycling or skiing, polarised sun lenses are a great option for optimum visual clarity. If you spend a lot of time near water or want that extra bit of performance from your sunglasses, polarised sunglasses are a great option for you.
#5 Improve clarity with the right tint colour
Sun lenses don’t just come in grey. In fact, there’s a whole spectrum of colours to choose from that provide different benefits such as glare reduction, colour perception and visual clarity.
For bright sunny days brown, green or grey-tinted lenses are usually best. They help improve contrast and diminish the effects of glare. But for overcast or changeable weather, blue, red or yellow-tinted lenses can improve vision in low light conditions and enhance your depth of field.
#6 Prevent headaches or migraines
Tension, migraines, and headaches can be triggered by or exacerbated by direct sunlight. This can be caused by the pupils being exposed to direct or indirect sun glare. Once again, good sunglasses with high-quality UV400-rated lenses can help protect your eyes, potentially ease headaches and even help you avoid them.
If you’re particularly sensitive to strong sunlight, perhaps you should consider the tint darkness of your spectacles or sunglasses lenses. Tints come in various levels of darkness which are divided into five groups known as the sunglasses categories.
Ranging from clear (category 0) to extremely dark (category 4), you can choose to have your lenses tinted to a darkness level of your choosing. Most recreational sunglasses are category 3 which absorb between 43-80% of visible light, however, this may be too dark for your spectacles or too light for your sunglasses.
For more information about the sun lens darkness, check out this blog post about the five different sunglasses categories. With the right darkness of lenses, you might help alleviate migraines or light sensitivity.
#7 Protection from wind or debris
Sunglasses do more than just block UV light. They can also act as a shield to protect your eyes from potentially harmful dust and debris. On windy days, cold days or partaking in sports, sunglasses provide a barrier to stop things getting in your eyes such as grit or snow. If you suffer from conditions such as ‘dry eye’, sunglasses are a helpful way to keep your eyes clear of irritation.
For maximum protection from the sun, wind and debris, consider investing in wraparound sunglasses frames. These are generally used for sports as they fit closely to your eyes and head for maximum protection. With a strong curvature, they’ll block sunlight and airborne particles from the sides and from above the frame.
#8 See properly with prescription sun lenses
For tasks such as driving, sightseeing or navigating busy streets, prescription sun lenses can be super helpful to help you see properly. Whether you’re short or long-sighted, prescription sun lenses are available in almost any kind of corrective lens type.
Prescription sun lenses are actually just the same as your regular spectacle lenses. Starting life as a clear lens, they’re dipped into hot dye tanks which gives them their darkened colour. The longer they’re immersed in the dye, the darker they’ll be.
Sun lenses can be tailor-made to your prescription, whether you need single vision or varifocal lenses. Additional coatings can also be added such as anti-glare or anti-scratch. You can even get polarised prescription sun lenses for the ultimate optical performance.
#9 Prevent wrinkles
The skin around your eyes and eyelids is exceptionally thin. This means it’s likely to age quickly from being dry, squinting or from extended UV exposure.
By wearing sunglasses, you can prevent the early onset of wrinkles. Big sunglasses frames with large facial coverage will help protect your eyes and surrounding skin from ultraviolet radiation and keep your skin looking younger and healthier.
In addition to sunglasses, skin products such as moisturiser and sunscreen are also great ways to keep your skin in good condition. Keep these to hand whenever you’re heading outside, no matter the time of year.
#10 Help healing & recovery
If you’ve recently undergone PRK or LASIK surgery to correct your vision, it’s strongly recommended that you wear sunglasses. Your doctor might suggest a pair for you to wear right away after the procedure, but wearing sunglasses can keep your eyes safe and sound as they heal and as you adjust to the new vision.
Corrective surgeries are commonplace; however, with reprehensible post-surgical care, there could be complications. Steer clear of any issues by following your doctor's orders and wearing sunglasses to keep the newly restored vision safe and secure.
You will also gain from wearing protective sunglasses if you have had eyelid repair, cataract surgery, or any procedure to correct vision. Talk to your doctor about his recommendations and opinions.
#11 Reduce the effects of jet lag
In a 2005 study by Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of The Edinburgh Sleep Centre, he deduced that wearing sunglasses can help reduce the effects of jet lag. Behind dark-tinted lenses, the amount of visible light entering your eyes is limited. Subsequently, your brain is fooled that it’s night time which can help adjust your body’s internal clock. If you’d like to try this method of beating jet lag, you can use this handy online calculator.
#12 Improve driving safety
During long periods of visual focus, bright sunlight puts strain on your eyes. On lengthy car journeys, visual fatigue poses the threat of complacency, delayed reaction or tiredness. By wearing sunglasses, you can help alleviate the effects of strong sunlight on your eyes and make it easier to focus on the road ahead. At the end of your drive, your eyes will inevitably be far less tired and may have prevented any potential incidents.
#13 Look good, see good.
Sunglasses not only keep you safe from UV exposure but are also considered a stylish accessory. Available in different shapes, colours, and styles, there’s a style of frame out there for everyone. If you’re particularly active and dabble in various activities or sports, it’s a good idea to have several pairs of sunglasses for different scenarios, light conditions and purposes.
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully, you’ll have picked up some useful information about the benefits of wearing sunglasses. For any pair of sunglasses, new or old, the most crucial factor is sufficient UV protection. This helps keeps your eyes safe and prevents long-term damage.
Secondary to UV protection, sunglasses are a vital accessory for visual comfort and can really improve your vision for tasks such as driving. For extra performance, adding your prescription or upgrading to polarised lenses are also fantastic ways to enhance your sunglasses’ performance.
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Wearing sunglasses FAQ’s
Is it OK to wear sunglasses all the time?
Yes, it's perfectly OK to wear sunglasses all the time. UV protective sunglasses will protect your eyes and surrounding skin from ultraviolet light. Sunglasses help reduce the chances of certain eye conditions such as pterygium, cancer or macular degeneration. However, it's recommended to take them off indoors and in dark environments as this can lead to eye strain.
What does it mean if someone wears sunglasses all the time?
If someone permanently wears sunglasses, this could mean any number of things. They could be blind, visually impaired, facially disfigured or suffer from conditions such as photophobia (light sensitivity). People may choose to wear sunglasses if they're particularly sensitive to light or wish to conceal certain aspects of their appearance or their emotions.
In celebrity culture, sunglasses act as a barrier between a famous individual and onlookers such as the press. Because sun lenses are dark, they conceal aspects such as eye contact.
When should you not wear sunglasses?
Sunglasses should not be worn in dark or dimly lit environments as this can lead to eye strain. For this reason, you should take your sunglasses off when driving at night as they'll reduce visibility and impair your field of vision.
It's also not recommended to wear sunglasses during formal scenarios such as being introduced to someone or speaking with figures of authority such as the police. Sunglasses limit eye contact which is an important aspect of conversation and human connection.
What are the disadvantages of wearing sunglasses?
If your sunglasses are UV protective, there are very few disadvantages to wearing them. However, extensively wearing sunglasses can lead to loss of light sensitivity. This is when your eyes become dependent on the darkness of sun lenses instead of using the radial iris muscle to open or contract in reaction to different light conditions.
Is it rude to wear sunglasses in the house?
It is generally considered rude to wear sunglasses in the house as this can block eye contact and hinder communication. Sun lenses are also considered inappropriate for formal or professional scenarios such as introductions. Take your sunglasses off if you're being introduced to someone for the first time, during conversations with figures of authority or at funerals and other solemn occasions.
Should you wear sunglasses every day?
It's recommended to wear sunglasses every day, especially if you're spending a lot of time outdoors. Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV light which can cause short and long-term damage. Wear sunglasses anytime you're exposed to strong sunlight or whenever you need improved visibility such as when driving. If you take part in different outdoor activities or sports, you should consider investing in sport-specific sunglasses as these have been designed to stay put and provide extra protection
Ultimately, wearing sunglasses every day has many benefits with very few drawbacks. Not only do they keep your eyes safe from UV light, but they also improve vision and provide a physical barrier between you and any airborne hazards on windy days such as dust or dirt.
How do you know if sunglasses look good on you?
It's important to pick sunglasses that fit correctly on your face. Poorly fitting sunglasses are uncomfortable, may slip down your nose and can even be less protective if they don't rest in the correct position on your face. In terms of style, aim for sunglasses that suit your face shape. As a rule of thumb, if you have a square face, choose rounded sunglasses. If you have a round face, choose box-shaped sunglasses.
Notoriously, sports sunglasses are deemed a little excessive for non-sporting, recreational or fashion scenarios. It's best to have more than one pair of shades which can be used for different occasions. Pick a pair that suits both your face shape and the environment in which you'll be wearing them.
Do sunglasses hide emotions?
Sunglasses can act as a social barrier, thus concealing emotions which can be beneficial in certain scenarios. Sunglasses may hide subtle indicators of emotion such as facial expressions or eye contact. If you'd like to remain neutral or unreadable in a situation, wearing sunglasses may give you the upper hand over your conversation partner.