There is some debate over whether or not we should wear sunglasses whenever we are outdoors. Some say that UV rays are a problem even on cloudy days. Others say that our eyes need at least some exposure to sunlight to maintain good health. Regardless of where you fall, Utah-based Olympic Eyewear says that sunglasses are very helpful to protect against both UV rays and direct sunlight.
Let us assume that the truth about wearing sunglasses is somewhere in the middle. Let’s assume the best way to go is to wear them on bright, sunny days but skip them on cloudy, overcast days. Where do we go from here? Well, there are some things people substitute for sunglasses that really are not adequate.
Wearing a hat is a good idea on sunny days. A hat can keep the sun off your face, thereby reducing the risk of sunstroke. But a hat is not an adequate replacement for sunglasses and the UV protection they offer. Eyes are still exposed to UV rays regardless of how wide a brim you are sporting on your hat.
Having said that, a hat can be very good protection against direct sunlight. It can also minimize the damaging effects of the sun on your skin. So if you’re going to wear sunglasses, by all means, wear a hat too. Just don’t don a hat as a substitute for shades.
Tinted Safety Glasses
The safety glasses you wear at work are intended to protect your eyes against chemicals and debris. They most likely offer no UV protection at all. As for their usefulness against direct sunlight, that is also up in the air. The long and short of it is that tinted safety glasses are not sunglasses. They are no substitute.
Paper 3D Glasses
Back in the 1950s, teenagers used to wear paper 3D glasses outside of the movie theater just because they looked cool. But note that 3D glasses are not sunglasses. They are cardboard frames with pieces of tinted film in between. Not only do they not protect against UV sprays or direct sunlight, but they also interfere with your ability to see clearly.
Solar Eclipse Glasses
A couple of years ago there were retailers and dealers selling solar eclipse sunglasses hand over fist. Guess what? Solar eclipse glasses are not an adequate substitute for sunglasses, either. The lenses in those glasses are designed to filter out intense UV light you are not going to encounter when no eclipse is occurring. They may be tinted enough to protect you against direct sunlight, but they are useless against UV radiation.
There are people who just don’t like wearing sunglasses under any conditions. When they go outdoors, they prefer to protect their eyes by squinting. Not only does squinting not work, but it can lead to other problems as well.
Squinting can lead to headaches, tension, and future development of wrinkles. It also causes the pupil to constrict in order to focus your vision through the squint. This isn’t necessarily a problem unless you have trouble holding your squint to the extent that you relax it frequently. Now you have a situation where your pupils are constricting and dilating alternately. When they dilate after you relax your squint, your eyes are instantly susceptible to that bright light you are trying to avoid.
There is no good substitute for a pair of high-quality sunglasses. What does this tell you? It tells you that you should own at least one pair. Sometimes, only a good pair of sunglasses will adequately protect your eyes against visible light and UV rays.