Why You Should Wear (Eco-Friendly) Sunglasses All Year Long

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Photo: Flickr/cdrake2

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement — they’re a way to keep your eyes protected from some gnarly-looking conditions. Photo: Flickr/cdrake2

Now that summer’s over, you may think it’s time to put away your sunglasses for the year. But no matter the season, those peeper protectors keep UV radiation from making its way to your eyes and causing short- and long-term health problems like hypersensitivity to light, photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye), cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer of the eye and surrounding skin. (None of these conditions are pretty — and many can be painful.)

You can easily reduce your risks of dealing with these issues by wearing sunglasses, but many people don’t, according to a recent report from The Vision Council called “The Big Picture: Eye Protection Is Always in Season.”

A Vision Council poll found that 72 percent of adults report wearing sunglasses when outdoors, but an observational study found that only about 60 percent actually do. Nearly 50 percent don’t wear sunglasses while driving, and only 12 percent ranked UV protection as the most important factor when shopping for new shades.

The good news is that there are plenty of sunglasses that will protect your eyes — and the delicate skin that surrounds it — while being stylish and environmentally friendly.

From top: Robinson glasses from Panda Sunglasses, Dizm Eco Eyewear glasses, Modern Rectangle Reading Sunglasses from ICU Eyewear

From top: Robinson glasses from Panda Sunglasses; Dizm Eco Eyewear glasses; Modern Rectangle Reading Sunglasses from ICU Eyewear

Consider Dizm Eco Eyewear glasses, with frames made from a biodegradable, compostable plant-based material (they also come in 70 percent post-consumer recycled packaging). Or the ICU Eyewear Sun Eco Collection, which features wallet-friendly designs made from reclaimed plastic. There’s also Panda Sunglasses, a company that makes high-end glasses handcrafted from sustainable bamboo. For each pair you buy, Panda provides an eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses to someone in need.

When buying sunglasses, look for those that protect from both UVA and UVB rays — this should be indicated through either a label on the lens or a sticker on the frame.

For more information on UV protection for your eyes or to find the UV Index for your area, visit www.missingsunglasses.com.

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Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.