Ever since we were children, sunglasses have been cool. It's quite strange really, considering other forms of eyewear have typically been associated with a stigma down the years. But as soon as those lenses turn from clear to dark, and no one can see where your eyes are looking, you instantly become instantly more mysterious and fashionable (check out sunglasses at EyeBuyDirect.com if you haven't invested in quality sunnies recently).
But are the benefits of sunglasses nothing more than superficial? Is the dose of dopamine we give ourselves when we know we look amazing the only reason worth considering? Absolutely not. Sunglasses bring many benefits. Let's check out why sunglasses are so important.
UV rays (& UV ratings)
The sun. It's been burning for more than four and a half billion years, and it's never taken a day off. Without it, we'd be done for. But with it, we're equally done for if we're not careful. When it comes to our eye health, the sun's UV rays are the shady gang down a brightly lit alleyway just waiting to do us harm. Of course, avoiding that alleyway is simple. Wear sunglasses. But what UV rating do you need?
Exposure to UV rays can result in a type of sunburn on the eyes called photokeratitis. To avoid the onset, Europe and the US have different ways of labelling sunglasses so that we - the general public - can make smart choices.
In Europe, you are more likely to come across a category of protection ranging 0 - 4. The most common lens offering adequate protection is category 3, with 0 being next to useless and 1 and 2 offering mild protection for cloudy days and sun glare respectively (category 4, incidentally, is designed for use in heavy UV exposure on mountain tops).
The US, on the other hand, gives a UV400 rating to any lens that can block almost all harmful rays. Depending on where you are in the world, look out for the rating that meets your needs.
Protect your natural vision for longer
Where you have to squint because of overexposure to bright light for an extended period, the muscles and the various other components of your eye have to work overtime (it's like trying to squeeze down food through a half-closed windpipe - that's going to be one exhausted gullet).
By wearing sunglasses, you can protect your eyes from being overworked, meaning your natural vision will be protected.
Sunglasses make driving at night easier (but not by actually wearing them at night!)
Don't wear sunglasses while driving at night. That would be dangerous. And probably illegal in many parts of the world. But do wear sunglasses during the day to keep your eyes nice and relaxed and ready to adjust to the darker conditions beyond sundown.
If your eyes are struggling with bright light all day, they aren't going to adapt to night vision very readily. But by protecting your eyes throughout the day, they will be much more up for the challenge of night vision when the time comes.
There are now so many different options when it comes to sunglasses, with a variety of different frame materials, styles and colours to pick from - all of which we can have our prescription in if needs be. There are even transition lenses that go from clear to dark, reacting to the amount of light around you, acting as your regular eyeglasses and your sunglasses, all in one pair.
As you can see from the above, sunglasses have many different functions, and ultimately they are so important because they allow you to see clearly without straining or damaging your eyes. Our vision is vital to us throughout our lives, so this is something we must protect at all costs. So, to answer the original question: why are sunglasses so important? The answer is that they keep us safe (by allowing us to see and protecting our eyes from the sun) as well as stylish. Everyone should have a pair on hand when they're going outdoors. Don't be fooled when it's overcast either - UV rays are still just as powerful, so if in doubt, always opt to take your shades with you!