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Here's why sunglasses are important on sunny days

"'s essential to remember to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays."

As sunny days beckon us outdoors, it's essential to remember to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays. Donning sunglasses with UV400 protection or Transitions lenses isn't just a fashion statement; it's a vital safeguard for our precious eyes.

Let's delve into why shielding our peepers is crucial, sprinkled with some fascinating facts about the history of sunglasses.

First and foremost, UV protection is not just about preventing sunburn on the eyes (yes, that's a thing!). Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to various eye problems, including cataracts, macular degeneration and even certain types of eye cancer. Sunglasses labelled with UV400 block 99 to 100 per cent of UV light, providing comprehensive protection against these potential risks.

But wait, what about Transitions lenses? These innovative lenses adapt to changing light conditions, darkening outdoors and clearing indoors. They offer continuous UV protection, ensuring your eyes are shielded whether you're basking in the sun or strolling through shaded streets. Convenience meets protection with Transitions lenses, making them a popular choice for many Powell River residents.

Now, let's dive into the fascinating world of sunglasses history. Did you know that the earliest record of sunglasses dates back to ancient Rome, where Emperor Nero watched gladiator fights through polished gems to reduce glare? Fast forward to the 12th century, when Chinese judges wore smoky quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court.

Sunglasses as we know them today began to emerge in the 18th century, with tinted lenses crafted from various materials like smoky quartz, glass and even leather.

The 20th century witnessed the mass production of sunglasses, thanks to iconic figures such as Sam Foster, who introduced affordable mass-produced sunglasses to America in the 1920s. The glamorous allure of sunglasses skyrocketed during the golden age of Hollywood, as stars like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe made them a fashion staple. Meanwhile, Ray-Ban revolutionized the industry in 1936 with the iconic Aviator sunglasses, designed to protect pilots' eyes during high-altitude flights.

As sunglasses evolved from a practical necessity to a fashion accessory, so did their technology. Polarized lenses, developed in the 1930s by Edwin H. Land, reduced glare by filtering horizontal light waves, making them ideal for activities like fishing and driving. And let's not forget the futuristic advancements in lens materials, from lightweight polycarbonate to shatter-resistant nylon, ensuring both style and safety for modern-day sun worshippers.

Back to the present day sunny shores of BC, where protecting our eyes with UV400 or Transitions lenses is a no-brainer. Whether you're hiking through the rugged wilderness in the back woods around our many lakes, or lounging on the many sandy beaches of our lovely town, your eyes deserve the best protection against harmful UV rays. Plus, let's admit it, nothing elevates a beach outfit or adds a touch of mystery like a stylish pair of shades.

So, as you bask in the warmth of our sunny days, remember to shield your eyes with the right eyewear. Whether you opt for classic Aviators, trendy wayfarers or high-tech Transitions lenses, prioritize UV protection without compromising on style. Your eyes will thank you, and you'll look effortlessly cool while soaking up the sun-kissed vibes of beautiful British Columbia.

Helen Whitaker is a licensed optician in Powell River.

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