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Cool. Confident. Trendy. Chances are, if you conjure up an image of a person with those words, more times than not that man or woman will be wearing sunglasses. Remember the iconic photographs of James Dean and John Lennon? Cool doesn’t quite cover it.

Although the average person may not frequent the red carpet like celebrities do, sunglasses are still a fashion must, even if you aren’t a Hollywood star. With the summer season upon us, it’s a good time to give this wardrobe accessory a nod of approval, because sunglasses are more than just a fashion choice.

Truth be told, most people don’t think twice about why sunglasses are anything more than an accessory to the perfect outfit. If you count yourself among this throng of fashionistas, you’re in good company. In this blog, the team of highly skilled doctors at Tayani Institute share their thoughts on why sunglasses are so much more than a fashion choice.

Protection against harmful UV rays

The results of a sun safety survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology reveals that only half of all sunglass wearers ever sneak a peek at the ultraviolet or UV rating of their specs before making their purchase. Spoiler alert: It’s all about protecting your eyes.

Natural light is a good thing. It’s a great source of vitamin D, which can help reduce bone loss and the risk of heart disease. It can even help you get a good night’s sleep and boost your mood. But, like everything else, getting too much natural light ― or, more specifically, too much ultraviolet radiation ― can be harmful.

Just like how you protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UV rays will help protect your eyes. Think of sunglasses like sunscreen for your eyes, except a whole lot trendier. Plus, healthy eyes are always in style.

Reduce the risk of developing cataracts

Exposing your eyes to damaging UV rays can have a cumulative effect and put you at risk for developing serious eye conditions, such as cataracts. This common, progressive eye issue affects about 50% of all Americans aged 80 and older. A cataract blocks light from coming into the eye and clouds vision. If left untreated, cataracts can result in blindness. Selecting sunglasses that block harmful light can reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Plus, you can still look great while doing it. It’s a win-win!

Reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration

Sunglasses that block nearly all UV rays can also shield your retina from damage. In fact, the violet and blue portions of ultraviolet light are particularly harmful to the retina. Over time, retina damage from these parts of the ultraviolet spectrum can lead to macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss for adults aged 50 and older.

Unlike cataracts, which can be removed with surgery, macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that causes permanent damage to the part of your eye called the macula. The macula is responsible for recording images and relaying the information to the optic nerve and ultimately to your brain.

Macular degeneration causes a progressive breakdown of the cells of the macula, which creates deposits in the eye. These deposits then block light and cause distorted vision, and the condition eventually leads to blindness. The good news is that sunglasses that provide adequate protection from UV rays can keep your eyes healthy for years to come.

So when you’re shopping for your next pair of sunglasses, make sure you’re not just looking at the styles. Check out the UV ratings, too. Do note that if you can see your eyes through the lenses, then there may not be enough UV protection. So go ahead and get some stylish shades, but make sure they’re friendly to your eyes as well.

To learn more about sunglasses, or to make an appointment for an eye exam, or to discuss any eye issues you may have, contact the highly trained and experienced team at Tayani Institute. Book an appointment online or over the phone today.