Why You Should Wear Sunglasses
As it turns out, the sun is pretty serious business. But you already knew that. What you probably didn’t know is that it’s not just your skin you should be protecting. The eyes, one of the most vulnerable parts of your body, are waging a losing war against the brutal sun and could really use some added defense.
Here are 6 reasons why you should wear sunglasses whenever you plan to spend time in the great outdoors. You can probably take them off inside, but after reading this, you may not want to.
The delicate skin surrounding your eyes, called the periorbital, is 10 times thinner than the skin on your face, and studies show that 90% of visible premature aging around the eyes is caused by UV damage. Unprotected exposure to the sun can cause wrinkling, age spots, and cancer.
2. SURFER’S EYE
Sun damage can cause a growth on the white of your eye (the sclera) near the cornea called a pinguecula (pin-GWEK-yoo-lah)—a yellowish, slightly raised thickening of the thin membrane (the conjunctiva) that covers the white of the eye. A pinguecula can cause a feeling of having something stuck in the eye, and it may become swollen and inflamed.
Frequently, pingueculae can lead to the formation of pterygia, or “Surfer’s Eye.” A pterygium (tuh-RIJ-ee-uhm) is a pink, fleshy lesion that can form a film over the eye, affect vision, and permanently disfigure the eye.
3. EYE FATIGUE
Those with lighter eye colors such as blue, grey, and green have less pigmentation than darker eyes, and are therefore more sensitive to light, resulting in more squinting and eye fatigue. Research also suggests that those with lighter irises are more susceptible to macular degeneration. Those with darker eyes are more susceptible to cataracts—both conditions are leading causes of vision loss and blindness and can be caused by exposure to UV.
4. BLURRED VISION
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located in the back of the eye that records the images you see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. Located within the center of the retina is the macula, which is responsible for crisp straight-ahead vision and your ability to perceive fine details. Studies suggest that exposure to UV can play a part in causing this part of the retina to deteriorate, resulting in a condition known as macular degeneration, which causes blurred vision, dark spots, and potential total vision loss.
Behind the iris and pupil is a transparent, layered structure called a lens that focuses light onto the retina. Scientists theorize that exposure to UV radiation may cause the lens to discolor and harden into a cataract, which obscures vision by making objects look hazy and out of focus. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.
6. EXTREME PAIN & TEMPORARY BLINDNESS
The cornea, the eye’s clear refracting surface that admits light and images to the retina is very susceptible to the elements and can literally be burned by the sun. The resulting condition, known as keratitis, can cause blurry vision, acute pain, and potential temporary blindness.
In case you needed any extra incentive on why you should wear sunglasses, here are some stats that might surprise you and possibly convince you to shade up when you head outside:
FACTS & STATS:
- 94% of people don’t know UV exposure can harm their eyes.
- 40% of UV exposure occurs when we are not in full sunlight.
- 90% of skin cancer occurs on the face and neck, with 5-10% occurring on the eyelids.
- 80% of eye conditions that affect people across the world are completely avoidable or curable.
- Wide-brimmed hats and caps only block about 50% of UV rays from the eyes.
- UV exposure to the eyes in early morning and late afternoon is nearly double than that of midday hours.
- Sun exposure to the eyes tends to be more constant in fall, winter and spring when the sun is lower in the sky.
- UV damage to the eyes is cumulative and often irreversible.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of sunglasses. They’re more than just a look, comfort on a bright day, or enhanced vision in your activity of choice. They're an essential component to good health. So, take your vitamins, stay active, and wear your sunglasses.