-The Inuit tribes of north Canada and Greenland made
the first sunglasses: bone or wood disks with slits in them, to block glare
-The oldest surviving pair of Inuit sunglasses is
from the 1200s, but the Inuit likely had them for centuries before then.
-In ancient Rome, Emperor Nero wore emerald
sunglasses to watch gladiator matches.
-Starting in the 1360s, judges in China wore dark
rock crystal sunglasses in court to hide their reactions to proceedings.
-China started importing European clear glass
spectacles in the 1430s. They smoked the
lenses to create better sunglasses for their judges.
-Europeans were using darkened glasses for sunlight
protection by 1591.
-The first clip-on sunglasses, which attached to
clear glasses with a hinge, were used in Europe in the 1600s.
-James Ayscough made the first tinted sunglasses in
1752. His glasses came in blue and
green. He thought clear glass spectacles
might damage wearers’ sight with too much glare.
-Polarized sunglasses were invented by Edwin Lund
(US) in 1929. He later started the
Polaroid Corporation, which sold polarized sunglasses as well as camera
-Sunglasses became associated with celebrities in
the silent film era (early 1900s). Movie
stars used them to avoid being recognized, and for eye protection against the
intense movie set lighting of the time.
-Sam Foster was the first person to sell sunglasses
to the public. In 1929, he started the
company Foster Grant, with one store on the Atlantic City, NJ, US boardwalk.
-Bausch & Lomb invented Ray-Ban sunglasses for
the US Air Force, to protect fighter pilots’ eyes from glare in flight while
still allowing them to look down at their instrument panels.
-NASA invented special sunglasses for astronauts to
use in space, starting with the Apollo moon missions. Space sunglasses are extra-durable, and have
a thin gold coating to protect against the increased UV radiation in space.
-Sunglasses manufacturers classify them by UV
absorption, tint, and light transmittance.
-Cosmetic sunglasses block 70% of UVB radiation (the
most damaging) and 20% of UVA radiation.
-General purpose sunglasses, for general outdoor
use, block 95% of UVB and 60% of UVA.
-Special purpose sunglasses, for bright environments
like snow, sand, or water glare, block 99% of UVB and 60% of UVA.
-Gradient lenses are dark at the tops and fade to a
lighter shade on the bottom.
-Double gradient lenses have dark tops and bottoms,
with lighter strips across the middle.
They’re best for glare situations like snow, sand, and water.
-Photochromic lenses, such as Transitions, turn
darker or lighter based on UV intensity.
-Polarized sunglasses work by blocking the vertical
components of light.
-Mirrored sunglasses have reflective coating on the
front of the lenses, for light reduction. They’re popular for use in very
-Clip-on sunglasses attach to clear spectacles.
-Rimless sunglasses have earpieces attached directly
to the lenses, with no frame. They’re lighter
than most other sunglasses.
-Teashades are the small, round-lensed sunglasses
John Lennon made famous.
the Best Sunglasses
-Sunglasses’ ability to block UVB is the most
important quality for eye protection.
UVA may not actually be very dangerous to the eyes.
-Use sunglasses even if you have dark skin or
eyes. More skin or eye melanin doesn’t
mean better UV protection in the eyes.
-Unless you work in outer space, you don’t need
reduce light entering the eyes by up to 97%.
-Low-quality sunglasses usually aren’t the best for
eye protection. They can actually cause
the iris to open more and increase UV exposure.
-The cost of sunglasses has nothing to do with their
effectiveness. Some designer brands have
poor UV protection, and some cheap ones work very well. Always check the UV ratings.
-Sunglasses with glass lenses are the most durable,
but they also break more easily and are heavier than plastic lenses.
-Wraparound sunglasses are the best at blocking
light coming in from around the frames.
-Wraparounds are especially recommended for anyone
who spends a lot of time at high altitudes or on the water.
-In the US, look for sunglasses with a “UV 400”
rating for best UV blockage.
-In Europe, the best UV-blocking sunglasses are
marked with the “CE” rating.
-In Australia and New Zealand, look for sunglasses
with an “EPF 10” rating.
-Sunglasses should fit snugly, without being too
tight or sliding around. They should fit
around the brow area, but not so closely that your eyelashes touch the lenses.
-The longer a nose you have, the lower the nose
bridge on sunglasses should be, to prevent sliding and light exposure.
-To check the optical quality of a pair of
sunglasses: put them on, focus on a vertical line in the surrounding area, and
move your head back and forth smoothly. If the vertical line wiggles, the
sunglasses have an optical defect – find another pair.
-Wearing contacts doesn’t eliminate the need for
sunglasses. Most contacts don’t provide UV protection.
-Contact lens users should always use sunglasses in
dusty or sandy environments, to prevent dirt from getting in their eyes and
trapped between the contacts and the eyes.
-Darker lenses don’t necessarily equal better UV
protection. Always check the UV rating.
-Polycarbonate lenses are the most scratch- and
-All sunglasses sold in the US are required to have
-Polarized bifocal reading sunglasses are available.
-Sunglasses are especially important in
high-altitude areas and in tropical and subtropical places. The nearer the Equator or higher up you are,
the more UV radiation you’ll be exposed to.
-Sunglasses are also important in areas where the
ozone layer is more depleted, including the lands near the Arctic Circle and
southern South America, because UV levels are higher there.
-Sunglasses should always be worn outdoors between
the hours of 10 am-2 pm, when UV rays are strongest.
-Cloudy or hazy days don’t filter out UV
radiation. Wear sunglasses outdoors
-Sunglasses with flexible rubber frames are
available for children.
-Rubber reversible sunglasses with head straps are
available. These are specially made for
-Wearing larger-sized sunglasses over clear glasses
sometimes works, if you don’t need or want prescription sunglasses.
-Sunglasses with oversized lenses provide some
sunburn protection because of their size.
-Blue and purple sunglasses are mostly for fashion.
They give very little UV protection.
-People with round faces look best in sunglasses
with angular or rectangular frames.
-People with rectangular and diamond-shaped faces
look best in oval frames or rimless sunglasses.
-People with square faces look best in round
-Triangular-faced people look best in sunglasses
with wide frames in the eye area.
-Oval-faced people look good in most styles of
-Sunglasses with oversized lenses can make the nose
and face look smaller.
-People have been known to use sunglasses to hide
red eyes from crying, lack of sleep, or substance abuse, or to hide black eyes.
and Sports Uses
-Yellow and orange sunglasses are best for shooters,
pilots, hunters, and anyone working on the water. These colors improve depth perception and
-Green-tinted sunglasses have the best contrast and
-Polarized sunglasses are good for people working on
the water, especially commercial fishers.
They enable people to see into the water due to the glare reduction.
-Many pro golfers use brown sunglasses, to increase
contrast on green golf courses.
-Professional baseball players use anti-glare brown
or gray sports sunglasses for day games, and clear anti-reflective glasses for
-Celebrities sometimes use sunglasses with oversized
lenses to avoid being recognized by paparazzi.
-Gamblers and professional poker players use
sunglasses to hide their facial expressions during games.
-Sunglasses can be used to prevent eyestrain in
anyone who works on computers for long periods of time, or in fluorescent-lit
-Sunglasses are also helpful in work environments
that require being around pavement, like driving or construction work. Pavement can be very reflective.
-Sunglasses keep dust, dirt, and sand out of the
eyes – helpful in gritty work situations.
-Night-shift workers use sunglasses to block light
exposure and readjust their sleep schedules.
-Skiers often use sunglasses with large side
shields, to reduce glare from snow.
-Flexible nylon frames and polycarbonate lenses (for
impact resistance) are best for sports uses.
-Use attachable straps that go around the head to
keep sunglasses on during sports.
-Police and security agents often wear mirrored
sunglasses, both to observe suspects without suspects being able to see their eye
movement, and for a slight intimidation factor.
-Highway patrol cops use mirrored sunglasses because
they allow wearers to focus easily on moving objects (like cars) without
-If a job requires you to wear a headset or helmet,
get sunglasses with thin frames, so they won’t be pressed into your head.
-Regular sunglasses use
can help preserve eyesight as one ages.
-Children should wear
sunglasses regularly. Their eyes absorb
more UV rays than adults’ eyes do, and they usually spend more time
-In the US, most insurance plans pay for sunglasses
used for medical purposes.
-The “UV 400” or equivalent ratings are generally
the best sunglasses for medical purposes.
-Sunglasses with good UV protection can help prevent
cataracts and certain eye cancers.
-Glaucoma patients should always use sunglasses
-Pterygium, benign growths on the eye surface, can
be prevented with sunglasses.
-Pinguecula, degradation of the collagen in the eye
causing eyeball growths, can also be prevented with sunglasses use.
-Sunglasses can also protect against snow blindness,
when the eyes are burned by glare reflected from snow (this can also happen
-Amber sunglasses, which block blue light, may help
prevent age-related macular degeneration.
-People who already have macular degeneration, or
who are undergoing treatment for it, should use sunglasses to prevent further
-People with retinal dystrophies should use
sunglasses to prevent further problems.
-Eye doctors give disposable sunglasses to people
who’ve gotten dilating drops in eye exams.
-The skin around the eyes is more vulnerable to skin
cancer, because it’s thinner. Sunglasses
use helps prevent this type of skin cancer.
-Sunglasses use helps prevent wrinkles around the
-Some sleep disorders are treated by using
blue-light-blocking sunglasses in artificial light after dark.
-Use sunglasses for 1-2 hours before bedtime to
improve sleep (especially if you must sleep during the day).
-Psoriasis patients being treated with UV radiation
should wear sunglasses during and after the therapy, as their eyes will be more
sensitive to UVA radiation.
-Babies getting light therapy for jaundice wear
sunglasses during the treatment, to avoid eye damage.
-People who’ve had recent eye surgery, such as
LASIK, cataract removal, or cornea transplants, should wear sunglasses while
-The company Enchroma makes Cx sunglasses, which
reduce certain light wavelengths to make red and green more noticeable. Enchroma claims these sunglasses allow
color-blind people to perceive reds and greens in bright light conditions.
-Blind and visually impaired people sometimes use
sunglasses because of light sensitivity, or to hide unusual-looking eyes.
-People with eye issues like nystagmus, strabismus,
or exopthalamos may use sunglasses to treat or hide their eyes.
-Sunglasses can help prevent migraines or other
-Sunglasses increase the moisture level in eyes by
blocking heat, light, and wind.
-For people with photosensitive epilepsy, sunglasses
can help reduce seizures.
-People on certain medications that increase light
sensitivity (such as oral contraceptives, psoriasis medications, diuretics, and
sulfa antibiotics) should wear sunglasses in bright environments.
-Certain types of sunglasses reduce
visual-perceptual issues, and can help reading disabilities caused by them.
-People with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and
autism often find that sunglasses improve their visual processing and help them
tolerate uncomfortable levels of light.
-Sunglasses can be used to help jet lag, smoothing
the impact of time zone changes by reducing the amount of light the brain
-Most sunglasses can be cleaned using microfiber
cloths. Wool and linen also work.
-Rinsing with warm water may be necessary for
-Dishwashing detergent can be used to clean sunglass
-Glass cleaning sprays work on some types of
-Never use ammonia-based cleaners on
sunglasses. Ammonia can destroy the
-Camera-cleaning sprays work on some sunglasses.
Check the spray’s safety first.
-Mirrored sunglasses should only be cleaned with
lens cleaners made for them. Other cleaners can damage the coating.
-Sunglass fogging can be prevented by rubbing the
lenses with Ivory soap, then cleaning them off with microfiber cloth.
-Bent frames can usually be straightened back out
with needlenose pliers.
-Keep sunglasses in a carrying case, to prevent
-Use lanyards to keep sunglasses from getting lost.
-Some medical professionals think sunglasses may
raise the risk of skin cancer. Some say
the blocking of visual light makes the body think it’s dark, which makes the
skin produce less protective tans.
Others speculate that wearing sunglasses simply makes people less likely
to get out of strong sun, leading to too much UV exposure.
-Never use sunglasses with side shields for everyday
or industrial purposes. They block peripheral vision and can be dangerous in
-Never use over-the-counter sunglasses for eye
protection when engaged in industrial activities (like welding, cutting, or
brazing). They don’t provide enough
protection from the intense light involved.
Use special-purpose sunglasses or approved safety goggles instead.
-NEVER look directly at the sun, even with
sunglasses on. They don’t provide enough
protection. Looking directly at the sun
can cause major vision damage.
-Sunglasses don’t protect against tanning lights,
either. Never look directly into those.
-Sunglasses that block
a high level of blue light can be dangerous when driving. They can affect color vision and the ability
to recognize traffic lights.
don’t usually work while driving. Most vehicle windshields already filter out
some UV light, which means the lenses won’t darken sufficiently.
-Don’t wear sunglasses
at night unless there’s a specific medical reason to do so. It results in dangerous vision reduction,
especially when driving.
-Pilots shouldn’t wear
polarized sunglasses while flying.
Polarization can create distortions when looking out a cockpit window or
at instrument panels.
-Pilots shouldn’t use
clip-ons or many over-the-counter sunglasses when flying, either. Consult a
doctor about getting prescription sunglasses for flying.
make it very hard to read cell phones, GPS screens, or LCD screens like those
at ATMs and cash registers.
-Banks and payday
loan/check cashing businesses don’t allow people to wear sunglasses inside (for
fear of robbers using them to hide identity).
-Unless you have
documentation of a medical reason for using them, you can’t wear sunglasses
when donating blood or selling plasma. This
is a caution against addicts trying to hide substance abuse signs.
-In many Australian schools, kids are required to
wear sunglasses during outdoor activities (a good idea, considering the intense
-Slang terms for sunglasses include: cheaters,
shades (US), sunnies, spekkies (Australia), glares (India), glecks (Scotland)
and cooling glasses (India and the Middle East).
-There are sunglasses designed for animals,
including “Doggles” for dogs. Doggles
are used to aid dogs with light sensitivity and other medical issues.
-The US military used Doggles on military dogs in
Iraq and Afghanistan, to protect their eyes from dust.
-“Rearview” sunglasses have mirrored glass strips on
the lenses’ inside edges, allowing wearers to see behind them if needed.
-“Pivothead” sunglasses have a tiny camera in them,
for shooting video from the wearer’s point of view.
-University of Washington-Seattle scientists
invented sunglasses that allow wearers to adjust color and darkness of lenses
using a built-in control knob.
-The company Qi-Wear makes Bluetooth-equipped
sunglasses, which can be used for playing music or talking, and block some
-Oakley’s “Thump” brand was the first make of
sunglasses to include an audio player.
-A pair of lost astronaut sunglasses is among the
13,000+ pieces of space junk orbiting Earth.