When you go outside, you’re not just dealing with the brightness of the sun or the summer heat: you’re also passing through an atmosphere that’s being bombarded with ultraviolet rays. UV rays are an inescapable part of life on Earth; you can’t leave your door without being exposed to them in some form while the sun is up. There are things you can do, though, to minimize their impact on your health. When it comes to staying healthy while you’re out in the sun, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to wear sunglasses. Make rocking a pair of shades a part of your daily routine and you’ve made a significant change for the better in your overall health.
Daily exposure to direct sunlight can be good for your health: it stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body and can improve your mood. It can, however, be damaging to your skin. UV rays can penetrate the skin and damage the elastin and collagen that keeps our skin firm. That firmness naturally sags with age, but sun damage can accelerate that process and lead you to forming wrinkles around your eyes at an earlier age. Sunglasses protect your eyelids and the thin, vulnerable skin around your eyes. That doesn’t mean you won’t eventually develop wrinkles in those areas, but at least you won’t be getting them ahead of schedule.
It might be strange to think of sunglasses as a form of preventive healthcare but they do a lot to shield you from a range of illnesses (some of which can be quite serious) that can be caused by ;exposure to UV damage: even a brief exposure to UV rays could increase your chances of developing a health condition.
Diseases that sunglasses could help safeguard you from include:
- Cataracts: Frequent exposure to UV rays could lead to you developing “cloudy” lenses in your eyes that can cause blurriness, bright light sensitivity, and near-sightedness.
- Photokeratitis: Also known as "welder's eye," this condition is like having a sunburn on your eye. UV rays damage your corneal nerves, which can cause sharp pain, pronounced light sensitivity, and decreased vision.
- Macular degeneration: While macular degeneration can often be a genetic condition, prolonged exposure to UV rays could lead to a similar deterioration of your retina. This condition can lead to blurred vision (especially in the center of your field of vision) and even vision loss.
- Pterygium: UV rays can cause the build-up of pterygium or pinguecula growth. These appear in the form of either a red, swollen conjunctiva or a yellow spot/bump that appears on the white part of your eye. While these can be usually cleared up with prescription eye drops and aren’t a serious condition, they can still lead to temporary vision problems and physical discomfort.
- Skin cancer: Perhaps sunglasses’ most valuable contribution to your overall health is warding off the growth of skin cancer around your eyes. The skin on your eyelids is very thin and thus more prone to damage from UV rays. Damage to your eyelids could make it more likely for you to develop nonmelanoma cancers (melanoma itself rarely grows near or in the eyes). Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are less likely to form if you consistently protect your eye area with sunglasses.
Protects From Glare
Anyone who’s driven around sunset can attest to how dangerous the glaring sun can be. Sudden overwhelming brightness doesn’t just hurt your eyes and saturate them in UV rays: it can briefly disrupt your vision and could cause serious accidents. Sunglasses protect you from this glare, and from related conditions like snow blindness and light reflected on shiny surfaces. Sunglasses with polarized lenses can be particularly helpful in this regard: these lenses have a coating that's designed to improve your vision in high-glare situations, making them a strong option if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
Shields You From Debris
In addition to protecting your eyes from harsh glare and UV rays, your sunglasses also protect your eyes from environmental damage. This can include tiny insects, dust, sand, and other natural debris blowing through the air.
Article by Austin Brietta
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