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Talk Nerdy to Me: Fifty (Okay, Five) Reasons to Wear Shades Even When It’s Grey

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

I know the title is a mouthful (err, eyeful?), but as a not-so-well-established blogger, who am I not to capitalize on the most prominent search engine keywords? Also, I know that the sky actually gets “gray,” because I’m not freaking British. Seriously, though – how else was I going to get you to read about the health and safety of your eyeballs without alluding to S&M somehow? While sunglasses are an eternal fashion staple, little light is shed on the scientific benefits of donning protective eyewear.

As we blame tanning beds for pregnancy and death (or was it melanoma and leathery skin?), the topic of eyes and sunshine is usually left at your mom telling you not to look directly in the sun. Unless you were a child genius, chances are you were not provided with pamphlets detailing the science of light refraction or whatever, and since children love to do the opposite of what they are told, you probably had a staring contest with the day star more times than you can count. Later in life, even sunglass enthusiasts moronically use shades only as headbands or choose sunglasses that don’t really block much of anything – except perhaps hatred. Little do they know that while they stock up on every free pair of hater blockers they can get their hands on at the company tents in front of the student union, the most they are accomplishing is becoming a walking advertisement without pay at the same time as still frying their corneas. It’s about time we share five reasons why you should wear polarized sunglasses – like, on your actual eyes.

1. UV rays hurt more than your skin.
My old astronomy teacher told my class that even walking around the University of Central Florida in daylight for a few minutes greatly increases your risk of blindness. This was only vaguely reminiscent of a Professor Trelawney finding death omens in tea leaves moment, but I enjoy pretending I attend Hogwarts instead at any opportunity, so I promptly decided that this was a bunch of crap. However, like Harry comes to find that his crazy Divination teacher actually has prophetic powers, an optician recently confirmed my kooky professor’s warnings.

Like skin, your eyes can get sunburned. According to Antonio Feroce, the Master optician at UCF’s College Optical Express, tell-tale signs of sunburned corneas include blood shot eyes and light sensitivity (like when everything looks darker indoors after being outside – sound familiar?) Though common, most people do not register the damage. While being temporarily blinded seems a small price to pay to the sun gods for a “sexy” tan, this can have lasting effects. You can develop intraocular melanoma or cataracts, which are cloudy areas inside the lens of your eye that can eclipse light that define images. If this sounds like a great reason to get prescribed medical marijuana, you are probably thinking of “glaucoma” and should score some sweet sunglasses with that hard-earned student loan money instead.

2. Polarization makes a difference.
It turns out that “polarization” is not just an excuse to hike up the prices of eyewear and only relates to large white bears indirectly. It has to do with division and opposition of anything from regions of the planet (there’s the relationship!) to magnets to political factions, and it comes from the French optical term “polariser,” which is a smart thing to tell people at cocktail parties.

When you wear any pair of sunglasses, your pupils dilate, actually making your eyes more susceptible to UV rays. Polarization is a way of actually blocking damaging light, which some “shades” ironically invite right into your eyeballs to start robbing you of your sight.

3. Avoid glare.
When I say to avoid glare, I am referring to refracted beams of light that can hamper your vision. The glares given to you by others who are jealous of your put-together look coupled with your obvious sun safety awareness thanks to your sun cheaters (a weird 20th century nickname for sunglasses) will be inevitable.

According to the pamphlets I am now old enough to enjoy, glare is responsible for inaccuracies involved with daily activities like driving and sports. Eliminating glare actually improves vision, allowing you to see about 23 feet further than you can without sunglasses in any condition – rain or shine! This is important for people with or without a prescription.

4. They are always in.
Whether they possess the John Lennon spectacle shape or resemble giant bug eyes, sunglasses of some kind are always in style. In my memory, they seem to even beat out wristwatches (which are paradoxically an almost “timeless” classic – haha!) for maintaining a position under the trend spotlight. Still, contemporary sunglass trends are cooler than ever, emphasizing colorful patterns (from floral to Native-American), as well as varying shapes and sizes.

5. You can have fashion and function.

In many shopping situations, we are forced to choose between products that are more aesthetically pleasing or more effective. Though non-polarized sunglasses can look great, they really don’t offer much in the way of protection. On the flip side, a lot of polarized glasses are pretty…ugly. If you’re okay with shelling out the extra dough, you can have both. Top names in fashion offer gorgeous frames with polarized lenses.

Ray Ban’s Wayfarer (one of the hottest sunglass models right now) comes polarized and ready to accompany any look with a tortoise shell coloring and a lens shape that is geek chic-hip, but flattering!

Fortunately, your very own College Optical Express (in the UCF Student Union, near the ticket booth) boasts some incredible deals for the fashionista on a collegiette™ budget. During their back-to-school sale, they are giving 20% off of select non-prescription sunglasses, including those from killer designers like Versace, Gucci, and Coach. For more information, you can call the store at (407) 823-4008 or check them out in person between classes.

As if all the negative publicity you’ve gotten for contributing to aging and cancer wasn’t bad enough, I’ve outed you again, Mr. Golden Sun. Despite the existence of supplements and cod liver oil, we’ll give you Vitamin D, OK?


Nicholas Osler graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2014 with a degree in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication. Connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/nicholasosler