The Importance of UV Protection in Your Glasses
People often associate sunglasses with long summer days in the sun but, in reality, it is important to protect your eyes from the harmful UV (ultra violet) rays in the sun no matter what the time of year. Sunglasses are effectively like sunscreen for your eyes: just as you wouldn't leave the house without sunscreen on during a heat wave, and on sunny days, you should always reach for your sunglasses!
When you're wearing them so regularly, it's important to choose glasses that suit you, and that you feel comfortable wearing. As well as looking stylish, your glasses also need to offer a high level of UV protection. Here are some of the reasons why UV protection for your eyes is so important:
Benefits of UV protection in glasses
The main benefit of choosing glasses that offer a high level of UV protection is that they protect your eyes from the risk of developing serious illness. When you leave your eyelids unprotected you leave them exposed to the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. What's more, eyes which are regularly exposed to UV rays show signs of cataracts between 5-10 years earlier than those with are always protected.
Only glasses that offer UV4000 level of coverage or higher can protect you from this risk. What better reason do you need to check your sunglasses are offering you the protection you need?
Don't like to wear dark lenses? Don't worry! It is a common misconception that the darker your tint, the better the protection it will offer. In reality, different types of lenses and levels of tint have been specifically designed to reduce the amount of UV light then will absorb and protect your eyes: even clear lenses can offer this protection.
History of UV protection in glasses
The concept of using tinted glass to protect our delicate eyes from the sun was first pioneered more than two centuries ago. At this point, no one knew about the importance of UV protection (or what UV rays even were) so the original tinted glasses were used to correct vision impairments and to cure patients with high levels of light sensitivity.
In the 1920s sunglasses re-entered the public psyche as a way to replicate their favourite movie stars. These movie stars were wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from the extremely bright lights that were being used on set during filming.
Inexpensive mass production of sunglasses as we now know them officially began in 1929 when Sam Foster developed affordable plastic frames and introduced them to America. He originally sold his sunglasses on the beaches of Atlantic City and they were specifically marketed to protect the eyes from the sun's harmful rays.
Since then sunglasses technology has evolved considerably in a relatively short period of time. Polarised sunglasses were introduced in 1936, and Ray Ban aviators began to be sold to the public in 1937. Glasses that offered UV protection quickly became the industry standard, and you should never purchase sunglasses that don't offer this as standard.