Sunglasses or sun glasses are a form of protective eyewear designed primarily to prevent bright sunlight and high-energy visible light from damaging or discomforting the eyes. They can sometimes also function as a visual aid, as variously termed spectacles or glasses exist, featuring lenses that are colored, polarized or darkened. In the early 20th century they were also known as sun cheaters.
Sunglasses are essential for preventing sun damage to your eyes; at the same time, they can improve your vision and help you make a unique fashion statement.
Sunglasses for Kids
Children may not be as interested as adults are in the fashion aspect of sunglasses. But because kids spend much more time outdoors than most adults do, sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are extra important for children.
In fact, many experts believe our eyes get 80 percent of their total lifetime exposure to the sun's UV rays by age 18. And since excessive lifetime exposure to UV radiation has been linked to the development of cataracts and other eye problems, it's never too early for kids to begin wearing good quality sunglasses outdoors.
Polarized sunglasses have been popular for years with boaters and fishermen who need to reduce reflected glare from the water surrounding them.
But now that many others who spend time outdoors have discovered the benefits of polarized lenses, interest in these types of sunglasses has soared.
Besides boaters, outdoor enthusiasts who benefit the most from polarized sunglasses include skiers, bikers, golfers and joggers, all who may enjoy a clearer view along with elimination of glare.
You may sometimes find yourself driving down the road, sun shining in your eyes, as you search in vain for those clip-on or magnetically attached sun lenses that came with your prescription eyeglasses.
At times like these, you might find that prescription sunglasses are much more convenient and more than worth the additional investment.
Contact lens wearers, too, may find wearing prescription sunglasses is sometimes a far more practical alternative outdoors. For example, you may not want to wear your contact lenses on the beach where your eyes can become itchy and watery as you battle the effects of sand, sun, wind and water.
Interest in performance-oriented sunglasses has surged in recent years, along with participation in outdoor activities such as mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, golfing and in-line skating. Durable and specialized performance sunglasses are needed also for certain professions such as the military.
To meet the demands of both casual and competitive athletes, sunglass manufacturers are developing innovative new sport sunglasses to provide the best vision possible under extreme conditions. The results: lightweight, flexible, durable materials, no-slip components that do not fail in the heat of the moment and, of course, many choices in lenses.
Sunglasses in sports
As do corrective glasses, sunglasses have to meet special requirements when worn for sports. They need shatterproof and impact-resistant lenses; a strap or other fixing is typically used to keep glasses in place during sporting activities, and they have a nose cushion.
For water sports, so-called water sunglasses (also: surf goggles or water eyewear) are specially adapted for use in turbulent water, such as the surf or whitewater. In addition to the features for sports glasses, water sunglasses can have increased buoyancy to stop them from sinking should they come off, and they can have a vent or other method to eliminate fogging. These sunglasses are used in water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, kite boarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, jet skiing, body boarding, and water skiing.
Mountain climbing or traveling across glaciers or snowfields requires above-average eye protection, because sunlight (including ultraviolet radiation) is more intense in higher altitudes, and snow and ice reflect additional light. Popular glasses for this use are a type called glacier glasses or glacier goggles. They typically have very dark round lenses and leather blinders at the sides, which protect the eyes by blocking the Sun's rays around the edges of the lenses.
Aviator sunglasses feature oversize teardrop-shaped lenses and a thin metal frame. The design was introduced in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb for issue to U.S. military aviators. As a fashion statement, aviator sunglasses are often made in mirrored, colored, and wrap-around styles.
In addition to pilots, Aviator-style sunglasses gained popularity with young people in the late 1960s and continue to be popular, with only a brief fall in demand during the 1990s.
Oversized sunglasses, which were fashionable in the 1980s, are now often used for humorous purposes. They usually come in bright colors with colored lenses and can be purchased cheaply.
The singer Elton John sometimes wore oversized sunglasses on stage in the mid-1970s as part of his Captain Fantastic act.
In the early twenty-first century moderately oversized sunglasses have become a fashion trend. There are many variations, such as the 'Onassis', discussed below, and Dior white sunglasses.
Onassis glasses or 'Jackie O's' are very large sunglasses worn by women. This style of sunglasses is said to mimic the kind most famously worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1960s. The glasses continue to be popular with women, and celebrities may use them, ostensibly to hide from paparazzi.
Oversized sunglasses also offer more protection from sunburn due to the larger areas of skin they cover, although sun block should still be used.
An estimated 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States each year, and nearly one million Americans have lost some degree of eyesight due to an eye injury, according to Prevent Blindness America.
Experts agree that more than 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with simple precautions, including wearing safety glasses or protective goggles.
The following articles will help you learn how to keep your eyes and your children's eyes safe, and how to treat common eye injuries.
Eye Safety Basics
Learn the common causes of eye injuries at home, work and play, eye safety tips and what to do if you or a family member suffer an eye injury.
How To Handle Common Eye Injuries
Is your eye injury an emergency? This guide tells you what to do about common eye injuries such as scratches and chemical burns.
Preventing Eye Injuries
How to protect your eyes from safety hazards such as fireworks, air bags, chemicals and paintball.
Protective Eyewear for Kids
Learn how to choose protective safety glasses and sports eyewear to protect your child's eyes from injuries.
Protective Sports Eyewear
Why protective eyewear is essential for sports and key features to look for in sports eyewear, based on your particular sport. Also, important fitting considerations for kids.
Safety Glasses and Eye Safety Q&A
Questions about safety glasses and eye safety answered by experienced eye doctors at AllAboutVision.com.
Safety Glasses and Goggles: Your Guide to Protective Eyewear
What you need to know about safety glasses and goggles, including details about protective eyewear standards.
Toys and Eye Safety
Learn how to choose toys that are appropriate for your child's age and how to avoid toys that are especially risky for potential eye injuries.
Eye Safety Tips
How to prevent eye injuries
Eye injuries affect more than one million people every year, yet 90 percent of these injuries are preventable with the use of appropriate safety eyewear. Here are some helpful tips to protect you and your family.
At home or outside
Wash your hands after using household chemicals.
Ensure there are no sharp corners on the edges of furnishing and home fixtures.
Wear chemical safety goggles when using hazardous solvents and detergents, and do not mix cleaning agents.
Turn spray nozzles away from your face.
Read and follow directions when opening bottles (e.g. wine or carbonated beverages).
Wear recommended protective goggles, helmets, and safety gear.
Use guards on all power equipment.
Wear recommended work-related protective gear.
Wear glasses/contacts with the correct prescription.
Use proper lighting.
Clean dust and fingerprints from computer monitors and/or video screens.
Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue.
Select toys that are appropriate for the child's age and activity level.
Provide adequate supervision during activities that use sharp objects (e.g., arts and crafts).
Do not permit a child to play with projectile toys such as pellet guns, or bows and arrows.
Beware of items in playgrounds and play areas that pose potential eye hazards.
Keep all-hazardous cleaning supplies and sprays out of the reach of children.
Keep children away from fireworks.
Set an example of using the appropriate protective eyewear during sporting and recreational activities.
Keep children away from lawnmowers in use, as debris may be projected into the air.
At school, teach children to wear protective eyewear when performing scientific or lab experiments.
Don't forget to wear your sunglasses
There are many sunglasses designed to protect our eyes from the sun's harmful effects. Often the labels on sunglasses promise protection from ultraviolet light and other kinds of natural radiation. You should always buy sunglasses that say they block 99% of ultraviolet rays. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight is linked to eye disease. UVB radiation is considered more dangerous to the eyes and skin than UVA radiation. Polarized sunglasses are also beneficial because they reduce the glare and reflective light from snow and water.
A thin plastic lens placed directly on the surface of the eye to correct visual defects.
A contact lens (also known simply as a 'contact') is a corrective, cosmetic, or therapeutic lens usually placed on the cornea of the eye. Contact lenses usually serve the same corrective purpose as conventional glasses, but are lightweight and virtually invisible - many commercial lenses are tinted a faint blue to make them more visible when immersed in cleaning and storage solutions.
Cosmetic lenses are deliberately colored for altering the appearance of the eye. It has been estimated that about 125 million people use contact lenses worldwide (2%), including 28 to 38 million in the United States and 13 million in Japan.
The types of lenses used and prescribed vary markedly between countries, with rigid lenses accounting for over 20% of currently-prescribed lenses in Japan, Netherlands and Germany but less than 5% in Scandinavia. People choose to wear contact lenses for various reasons.
Many consider their appearance to be more attractive with contact lenses than with glasses.
Contact lenses are less affected by wet weather, do not steam up, and provide a wider field of vision.
They are more suitable for a number of sporting activities.
Additionally, ophthalmological conditions such as keratoconus and aniseikonia may not be accurately corrected with glasses.
Types of Contact Lenses
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Soft contact lenses may be easier to adjust to and are more comfortable than rigid gas permeable lenses. Newer soft lens materials include silicone-hydrogels to provide more oxygen to your eye while you wear your lenses.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGPs) are more durable and resistant to deposit buildup, and generally give a clearer, crisper vision. They tend to be less expensive over the life of the lens since they last longer than soft contact lenses. They are easier to handle and less likely to tear. However, they are not as comfortable initially as soft contacts and it may take a few weeks to get used to wearing RGPs, compared to several days for soft contacts.
Extended Wear Contact Lenses
Extended wear contact lenses are available for overnight or continuous wear ranging from one to six nights or up to 30 days. Extended wear contact lenses are usually soft contact lenses. They are made of flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. There are also a very few rigid gas permeable lenses that are designed and approved for overnight wear. Length of continuous wear depends on lens type and your eye care professional's evaluation of your tolerance for overnight wear. It's important for the eyes to have a rest without lenses for at least one night following each scheduled removal.
Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses
The majority of soft contact lens wearers are prescribed some type of frequent replacement schedule. 'Disposable,' as defined by the FDA, means used once and discarded. With a true daily wear disposable schedule, a brand new pair of lenses is used each day.
Some soft contact lenses are referred to as 'disposable' by contact lens sellers, but actually, they are for frequent/planned replacement. With extended wear lenses, the lenses may be worn continuously for the prescribed wearing period (for example, 7 days to 30 days) and then thrown away. When you remove your lenses, make sure to clean and disinfect them properly before reinserting.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Contact Lenses
Whether you are wearing Daily Wear or Extended Wear Contact Lenses or whether you are discarding them each day or after 2 weeks or more of wear, it is important to follow your eye care practitioners' instructions regarding cleaning and disinfection, carefully. By following the 'how , what, why and when' of contact lens cleaning and disinfection, you will have the best and safest contact lens wearing experience.
Each type of contact lens and care product or solution will have very specific instruction for how long to rub the lenses to clean them-or not to rub them at all...how long to soak the lenses, how long to rinse the lenses and in what type of solution. Follow these instructions carefully. If you are unsure about any step you should ask your eye care practitioner to further review and explain them.
Some general guidelines should be followed for all lens types. Always wash your hands before removing or inserting the lens. Always use quality lens care products and try to clean lenses as often as possible to remove buildup. Always follow guidelines in the instructions as to minimal soaking time before wearing lenses again. Never rinse the lenses with tap water. Frequently clean the lens case with solution and replace it at reasonable intervals. Your eye care practitioner can advise you on how often your case should be replaced. By following the lens care and cleaning instructions, you will have a safe and comfortable lens wearing experience.