Sunglasses are way more than just an accessory. Did you know they shield your eyes from sun damage while they make you more attractive?
Now that you’re paying attention, read on to see how (and why you should wear sunglasses anyway).
Looking Cool is not the Only Benefit
The whole reason we even need a pair of sunglasses is due to the existence of ultraviolet radiation. You probably know this as “UV rays.” The sun itself, not just the light, is our main exposure to these. What this means is that your eyes are picking up UV rays even on cloudy days.
UVA, UVB, and UVC rays combine to make what we consider UV rays. You need sunglasses for the first two. Cataracts and photokeratitis (sunburn on your cornea) are two serious eye problems directly related to UVB exposure. This alone should be enough to make you put sunglasses on but there are also UVA rays to worry about. These are linked to retina damage, causing loss of central vision. Whereas UVB rays are largely absorbed by your lens and cornea, UVA rays actually get inside your eye. Don’t forget, UVB rays are still considered the most dangerous.
What to Look for
Good thing you don’t have to choose which one to protect yourself from. There are a few things to look out for when picking out a pair of sunglasses. The first and most important is that they should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
They should also screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light (which is different than protecting from UV rays). The lenses should seem identical, in both color and in lacking imperfections.
Darker does not Equal More Protection
The color of the lens has nothing to do with how much UV protection lenses provide. In fact, early versions of sunglasses were dark but blocked no UV rays.
Reducing the light while looking at something is why the very first pair of sunglasses was invented. At around the 12th century in China, smoked quartz “lenses” were held up to the eyes to block some of the bright sun. Although they didn’t block UV rays, they did hide the wearer’s emotions. Might this last reason be why they were popular with both the very rich and judges in court?
Sunglasses Make You More Attractive
Here’s the part you were waiting for. Celebrities aren’t just using oversized sunglasses or reflective aviators to hide from the paparazzi. There are two reasons explaining why we are better looking with sunglasses on.
They fix our facial symmetry. When you have on a pair of big sunglasses which protects not only your eyes, but half your face from the sun, you also hide any facial asymmetry. Science has linked facial symmetry with how attractive we perceive someone to be. As we tend to look at people’s eyes, we notice asymmetry there first. Sunglasses cover these up, making us appear more symmetrical, and more attractive.
The second has to do with those Chinese judges. They hide our eyes which reveal our emotions, giving us an air of mystery. This draws people in because they want to solve the “puzzle” of our emotions. (The judges used them to discuss issues in court without their emotions betraying their true feelings, allowing them to appear impartial.)
Health and appearance benefits? Ready to sign up? Start with a vision test to see if you would benefit from prescription sunglasses.
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by Joyce Handzo