Few fashion items are also as practical as sunglasses, and since today is National Sunglasses Day, now is a great time to learn all the ways they protect you while making you look good.How do sunglasses protect your eyes? The main function of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from UV radiation. UV rays may lead to macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. UV rays can also be a risk factor for cataracts. As your eye absorbs UV rays, the light can cause damage, which can contribute to the progression of the cloudiness of the lens. High levels of short-term exposure to UV rays can cause photokeratitis, or corneal sunburn. This occurs when intense levels of UV rays reflect off water, sand, or snow. This condition is painful and, while it doesn’t cause actual blindness, can make it too painful to actually open your eyes. UV rays can also cause growths on the white of the eye and sometimes the cornea, which can block vision. Sunglasses also protect the delicate skin around the eyelids, which is susceptible to skin cancer. Sunglasses should have 100 percent UVA and UVB protection, and they shouldn’t just be worn in the summer. Winter months can be just as bad for UV light as summer months, so people should get in the habit of wearing sunglasses whenever they’re outside. That’s why you should buy a pair of sunglasses now: you’ll get in the habit of wearing them all summer and will keep wearing them as the weather cools down.When should you wear sunglasses? It’s important to wear sunglasses not just during the middle of the day, but at sunrise and sunset, too. Because the sun is lower in the sky, our eyes are exposed to more UV radiation – sometimes as much as twice the amount, depending on the time of year. Sunglasses with polarized lenses are able to reduce glare, which is beneficial when driving or anytime you are around water. It is important that children wear sunglasses even more than adults. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of UV damage done to our eyes occurs by the age of 18. Since UV damage is cumulative, this can lead to an increased risk of permanent eye damage or disease. “With all the benefits to your health as well as being a great fashion accessory, sunglasses should be considered an essential part of your outdoor gear,” Jay Russell, CEENTA’s Optical Services Manager, said. You can purchase sunglasses at any of CEENTA’s optical shops. Many of the same brands you can purchase at retail chains are available here at competitive prices. Celebrate National Sunglasses Day by buying yourself a set today.This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician.