While sunglasses serve as stylish accessories that accentuate and sometimes define a person’s style and wardrobe, they also serve an important purpose. Our eyes are extremely sensitive to light, more so to the extreme lighting given off by our Sun. It’s the brightest celestial body in our sky and every optometrist warns of the dangers associated with gazing your unaided eyes directly toward the Sun. Simply staring at the Sun for a brief period could result in severe retinal damage known as Solar Retinopathy and even varying degrees of blindness.

Sunglasses provide a first line of defense against the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. And during the summer, the intensity of UV radiation is nearly three times higher than it is during the winter. UV rays have been linked to the development of several complications with our eyes such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Sunglasses can help block these harmful UV rays, while also protecting the sensitive skin surrounding our eyes from wrinkles and premature aging. This alone provides enough reason why anyone out in the bright summer Sun should wear sunglasses – but there’s more!

Just about every surface reflects light. And given the amount of sunlight experienced during summer days, it’s surprising that anything can be seen! Car windshields and roads are some of the most distracting reflectors of light and, without sunglasses, can produce dangerous driving conditions. Polarized and filtered sunglasses help to reduce glare, providing a much more comfortable and visible experience while out and about.

Sunglasses also provide a literal barrier to windblown particles. Wind tends to carry dust and debris that could potentially reach your eyes and cause small abrasions to the surface of your cornea. Sunglasses can help prevent these particles from reaching your eyes. They also help reduce the pace at which wind causes tears to evaporate, ensuring that your eyes stay moist and comfortable.

Using sunglasses in very bright conditions, such as a typical summer day, can also help reduce the strain you place on your eyes and help reduce the frequency of headaches. Our pupils can only constrict so much, causing us to use our muscles to squint our eyes in brightly lit environments. This squinting could lead to muscle fatigue that can, in turn, lead to headache and eyestrain. Sunglasses reduce the amount of light that reaches your eyes, relaxing the strain placed on our pupils to constrict.

So the message is bright and clear as day – wear sunglasses!