How do Sunglasses Protect My Eyes?

Sunglasses have long been associated with style, fashion, and looking cool. However, their primary purpose is to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, especially here in Tennessee where we get a lot of sunshine!  But what are the benefits of wearing sunglasses? How can I choose the best types of sunglasses for optimum eye protection? When it is good to wear sunglasses?  And, most of all, how do they help maintain good eye health?

2 people trying on sunglasses and trying to pick out a pair

What are the benefits of wearing sunglasses?

  1. Protection from UV rays: Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage the eyes, increasing the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye’s surface, including cancer. Wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays can effectively protect your eyes from these harmful effects.
  2. Reduced glare: Sunglasses, especially those with polarized lenses, can reduce glare from reflective surfaces like water, snow, and glass. This can enhance visual comfort and clarity, especially when driving, participating in water sports, or spending time in snowy environments.
  3. Protection from debris: Sunglasses serve as a barrier against airborne debris, like dust, sand, and wind, which can irritate or damage the eyes. This is particularly helpful for individuals who engage in outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking, or gardening.
  4. Reduced eye strain and fatigue: Bright sunlight can cause the eyes to squint and strain, leading to eye fatigue and headaches. Sunglasses help alleviate this strain by providing a more comfortable viewing experience.
  5. Enhanced visual performance: Sunglasses can improve visual performance by enhancing contrast and reducing glare, allowing for better perception of details in the environment.

What types of sunglasses best protect my eyes?

When choosing sunglasses, look for the following features to ensure maximum protection for your eyes:

  1. UV protection: Ensure that the sunglasses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses that meet this standard often have a label or sticker indicating their UV protection level.
  2. Polarized lenses: Polarized lenses reduce glare from reflective surfaces, improving visual comfort and clarity. While polarization does not offer additional UV protection, it can enhance your visual experience in bright environments.
  3. Lens color: Gray, green, and brown lenses provide the most accurate color representation, while amber and yellow lenses can increase contrast in low-light conditions. The lens color you choose should be based on your preferences and the activities you’ll be participating in while wearing sunglasses.
  4. Frame coverage: Look for sunglasses with large, wraparound-style frames that provide more coverage for the eyes, reducing light leakage from the sides and protecting the eyes from debris.

When should I wear sunglasses?

Sunglasses should be worn whenever you are outdoors during daylight hours, particularly when the sun is at its strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm. Additionally, sunglasses should be worn when participating in outdoor activities, such as water sports, skiing, or hiking, where glare and debris can be particularly bothersome.

How do sunglasses protect my eyes?

Sunglasses help protect your eyes in several ways:

  1. Blocking UV rays: By filtering out harmful UVA and UVB rays, sunglasses prevent damage to the eyes that can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancerous growths.
  2. Reducing glare: Polarized lenses in sunglasses minimize glare from reflective surfaces, enhancing visual comfort and reducing the risk of accidents while driving or participating in outdoor activities.
  3. Shielding from debris: Sunglasses provide a minimal physical barrier that protects the eyes from dust, sand, wind, and other airborne debris, reducing irritation and the risk of eye injuries. However, while sunglasses may provide protection from the sun’s glare and harmful UV rays, they are not designed to protect the eyes from the hazards that safety glasses are intended to protect against, such as flying debris, chemicals, and other types of potential eye injuries. 


Wearing sunglasses is a fashion statement and an essential step in maintaining good eye health. By protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, reducing glare, and shielding them from small debris, sunglasses can help prevent eye damage and improve your visual experience. When selecting sunglasses, make sure they provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, have polarized lenses, offer proper lens color for your needs, and feature frames that provide adequate coverage. By investing in a quality pair of sunglasses and wearing them consistently when outdoors, you can safeguard your eyes and enjoy the sunshine in style.

At Tennessee Eye Care, we are committed to providing expert eye care for people in East Tennessee. Our team will ensure your comfort and provide up-to-date expert care, prioritizing your eye health and well-being. Don’t wait to take control of your vision – reach out today to schedule an appointment with Tennessee Eye Care.

Need help? Contact our office to schedule an appointment.