Marijke Durning, RN
Sunglasses are an iconic fashion accessory associated with scores of celebrities: Tom Cruise's Aviators from Top Gun; Ozzie Osbourne's circular specs; Audrey Hepburn's timeless Ray-Bans from Breakfast At Tiffany's, also a signature of Jack Nicholson and the entire Blues Brothers clan; Yoko Ono's Porsche wraparounds; and, of course, Elton John's fabulously flamboyant frames.
The list goes on.
A survey conducted by the American Optometric Association shows that only one-third of Americans who buy sunglasses feel that they need them to protect their eyes. In other words, two-thirds are buying shades because they like how they look.
While manufacturers of high-end shades like Porsche, Ray-Ban and Oakley do make an effort to balance function and style, not all sunglasses are created equal. Some lenses, though they appear dark, are not effective in protecting the eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Sunglasses that don’t protect your eyes can do just as much damage as not wearing them at all.
These days any two-year old knows the importance of wearing sunscreen when exposed to direct sunlight. However, the sun damages more than just skin. It also damages your eyes, and this health fact is not as widely known or reported.
The same rays that damage your skin, both UV-A and UV-B, can speed the development of cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts are the most common type of eye damage in North America, but sun exposure can also result in other types of permanent eye injury (some potentially fatal) such as:
Children and Sunglasses
Cheap sunglasses – plastic frames and paper-type lenses – are available just about everywhere, from party supply stores to dollar stores. But these to shades don’t provide any protection, and children need as much (or more) protection from the sun than adults. In fact, these cheap sunglasses may increase the chance of serious injury by giving children a false sense of security, encouraging them to look towards the sun when they may not normally.
Marijke Durning, RN
Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN is a health writer based in Montreal, Canada. She has been published in many outlets both online and in print, such as Costco Connection, CBC.ca, Scrubs Magazine, and NursingLink.com.