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Sunglasses - When to Wear Them

This is the conventional approach to wearing sunglasses, not the alternative natural approach where sunglasses are usually NOT recommended. You make the choice.

Anytime you're eyes are exposed to ultraviolet light, your eyes need protection. That means whenever you're outside, even in winter, even on an overcast day and even when you're in a car.

Children should wear sunglasses, too if possible. It is difficult to keep sunglasses on a baby or toddler, so protect their eyes with a hat or the cover of a stroller.

What to Look for in Sunglasses

Polycarbonate lenses for sure. They are shatter-resistant, making them perfect for children as well as for adults, even non athletes -- what would happen to your eyes if you were in a car accident for example?

Ultraviolet protection. If they' are not labeled 100 percent UVA/UVB protective, then they probably aren't.

Polarized lenses. If you're boating, skiing, even driving on a sunny day, polarized lenses will reduce the glare.

Sports-specific sunglasses if you are an athlete.

Wraparound styles if you're exposed to a lot of ultraviolet light, such as on the water or on the ski slopes. Some even have a rim at the top that extends toward your face. When choosing sun glasses, make sure your peripheral vision isn't hindered.

Are Cheap Sunglasses OK to Wear?

You might be able to find a fashionable pair of sunglasses on the sale rack at a discount store, and that's OK -- as long as they're labeled UVA/UVB protective. A couple of things to be aware of: They may not be great optically, so you may get a magnification effect or another distortion. Plus, the lenses probably are not shatterproof. But they may be somewhat protective.

Some fashion sunglasses are very small. But they are better than wearing no sunglasses.

Does Color of the Sunglasses Matter?

The lens color is a matter of personal preference. And darker lenses doesn't mean they are better: Some photochromic (color-changing) lenses that are 100 percent UVA/UVB protective aren't very dark at all -- but are still very good.

Here is a look at what different lens colors do:

Gray lenses: Keeps the surroundings true to color.

Amber or brown lenses: Enhances contrast.

Yellow lenses: Brightens the surroundings. Good for overcast days.

Rose lenses: Makes colors look more vivid and more attractive.

Mirrored lenses: Great for sports, because opponents cannot see your eyes or anticipate your next move. Law enforcement officers wear them for the same reason.

4  Reasons to Wear Sunglasses

1. Ultraviolet rays can contribute to cataract formation. Probably due to the standard American diet, everyone seems to get them eventually -- but eye doctors now are seeing cataracts in people who are in their 40s and 50s.

2. Your cornea can get sunburned, and that's painful. Be careful, burning your cornea puts you at increased risk of developing corneal degeneration.

3. You can get tissue overgrowth in your eye that causes vision distortion -- and lit looks unsightly.

4. Ultraviolet light may hasten the onset of macular degeneration, eat dark green lettuces so say ophthalmologists.

Thes are the standard conventional suggestions for wearing sunglasses. Common sense tell us not to wear them unless you absolutely need them. And never look directly into the sun.