From movie stars to the kid down the street, nearly everyone seems to wear sunglasses, but why? Aside from making a bright day manageable, is there any other reason to wear a pair? Where did they come from, and what were they made for?

This article dives into these mysteriously “cool” shades. The means to find out everything you need to know about sunglasses and then some.

What Are Sunglasses Exactly?

These darkened spectacles are a form of protective eyewear that shields your eyes from bright lights such as the sun. They can also protect your eyes from high-energy light such as ultra violet rays and blue light. In some cases, they can double as prescription lenses.

Worn on the face just like any other pair of glasses, they can serve all sorts of purposes and functions.

What Are They Used For?

The American Optometric Association recommends using sunglasses whenever you are out in the sunlight. They are used to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Among that are other forms of light that can damage your retinas and lead to severe problems in your vision.

They are also used after surgical procedures such as LASIK laser eye surgery. Sunglasses are useful for the period in which the patient’s eyes are healing. This includes when going outside, sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, and in dusty areas.

Those driving might use them to deflect the glare of the sun so they can better see the road. In some cases, sunglasses can be used to better mask a person’s identity in public. However, often they serve as a fashion statement that makes you look “cool”.

A Brief History

The concept of a nice pair of shades has been around for a lot longer than you might think. Early Inuit tribes fashioned something that resembles glasses out of ivory that featured narrowed slits which protected their eyes from bright sunlight reflecting off the snow.

The ancient Chinese and Romans wore spectacles made from crystals. As you might imagine, they did little more than create a distinct look for their wearers. It wasn’t until the mid-18th century that people began to experiment with tinted glass lenses. At the time, they believed they could correct vision impairments.

Sunglasses became popular in the Roaring 20’s, thanks to movie stars on the Silver Screen. Over the years, these shaded lenses were slowly perfected into what you see for sale today. Modern technology has even created transition lenses, allowing those with prescription glasses to enjoy the benefits of each by simply walking in or outdoors.

What Benefits Do They Offer?

Sunglasses offer a few benefits, some of which are obvious while others you might not have thought about. If you are thinking about purchasing a pair, consider which of these benefits would help you the most.


The main benefit offered by any pair of shades is protection against excessive exposure to light, both its visible and invisible components. Ultra-violet radiation is one of those components we cannot see that can cause irreversible damage to our eyes. Experts recommend a pair that can block the majority of UVA and UVB rays.

High-energy visible light (HEV) has also been shown to cause age-related macular degeneration. Reflective lenses and different tints work to combat these adverse effects. You can rest assured that your pair offers the most protection if it is labelled UV400, the highest light filter available.

Looking Cool

Shades can be worn to hide one’s eyes, making eye contact impossible. This can cause several effects from making someone look more intimidating to detached or merely help them to blend into a crowd.

Appearing detached is considered a cool look among many sub-cultures, while other designer fashion pairs are viewed as cool simply by their design. Synonymous with movie stars and action heroes, there’s just something self-rewarding about wearing a nice pair of sunglasses.

These high-end pairs can double as fashion trends. Particular shapes appear in fashion magazines as trends, often being part of a specific look accompanying a lifestyle. This is particularly the case for the culture surrounding America’s beaches.  

Avoiding Eye Contact

Mirrored shades make it impossible for others to make eye contact with you. This can be incredibly beneficial if you do not want someone to see your emotions or if you are trying to hide a tell in poker. Those with social anxiety may also benefit from the anonymity these darker lenses offer.

Hiding Impairment

Some may choose to wear a pair of shades when they have a visual impairment. For instance, the blind often wear them to draw attention away from their eyes. Others may wear them to hide dark circles under the eyes, crow’s feet, cataracts, or even a lazy eye. This use covers a broad range of reasons depending on the wearer.

Who Are They Made For?

Sunglasses are made for absolutely everyone. The necessity to protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun is something that all too many tend to overlook. While you may not notice it, over the years the sun’s ultra violet and blue lights are causing irreparable damage to your sight.

These tinted glasses are the only solution that exists for protecting your eyes when you head outside. While a hat or visor may shield your eyes slightly, they are no comparison to what a good pair of UV blocking shades is capable of.

Designer pairs are specially made to help you make a fashion statement. They are made to bring your wardrobe together, while others are simply made to help you look as cool as a movie star. The avid poker player and the visually impaired alike might find that they like wearing a pair to keep attention away from their eyes.

Meanwhile, they offer anonymity for those with social anxiety and a good cover for anyone wishing to hide blemishes or impairments. They are extremely versatile, and different companies manufacture them for various reasons, making them suitable for anyone who wants to wear them.

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