Sunglasses: Why wearing them is more than being hip

Sunglasses are often seen more as a fashion accessory than protection for your eyes. It has been widely popular globally generating an industry sales revenue of more than $3.5 million. Sunglasses, like standard glasses, speak a lot about the wearer and can make or break people’s impression of you.

But apart from making you look cool, sunglasses were created more out of necessity than vanity. The Inuit peoples flattened walrus ivory with slits to block some of the sun’s harmful rays. Nowadays, there is are sunglasses available for almost every lifestyle there is: land vehicle driving, piloting, sports, and even space.

It has been proven time and again that the sun’s UV rays are causing cancers which are preventable with the correct protection. While sunscreen goes to the skin, sunglasses do the same for your eyes.

Skin Cancer

Intraocular melanomas make up 10% of all cancer cases. While it is a small percentage, it can happen and it can happen to you. This type of cancer is caused by melanocytes, pigment making cells that mutate with prolonged exposure to UVA rays.

Photokeratitis

Painful eyes cause by UV exposure of insufficiently protected eyes to natural and artificial light. Tears and the painful feeling of having sand in your eyes are a red flag. The condition is similar to corneal and conjunctival sunburn.

Cataracts

The most common cause of vision loss in people who are over 40 and the primary cause of blindness worldwide. While it can also be caused by glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes, unprotected exposure to UV rays have also been discovered to trigger these clouds behind the iris and pupil.

Macular Degeneration

The macula is a small area in the retina which is the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye and allows you to see clearly. While it is only a small area, it is the part of the retina which is more sensitive to detail and frequent exposure to the sun leads to an abnormal growth of blood vessels and opaque deposits and pigments in the retina. Blurred vision is the most common symptom of macular degeneration. However, it is also a symptom of most eye conditions and a comprehensive eye exam should be done before a diagnosis can be reached.

Pterygium

More commonly called surfer’s eye, it is characterized by the growth of a pink fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva which is the clear tissue that lines your eyelids and covers your eyeball. While it is not as destructive as cancer, it may impede vision and cause problems in doing daily activities.

 

Sunglasses are more than a fashion statement and while most may cost a lot, protecting yourself from these conditions is certainly worth it.