Although they often have the pleasing effect of making you look cool, there's an even better reason to hide behind a pair of shades: preventing sun damage. As tough and dynamic as your skin is, prolonged exposure to the sun makes your skin sag, gives you wrinkles and age spots, and increases your chances of skin cancer. The skin on your eyelids and around your eyes is especially thin and requires extra protection. The weapon? Sunglasses with UV protection.
UV stands for ultraviolet radiation, and it's a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that fills the gap between visible light and X-rays. There are two types of rays that reach our skin, UVA and UVB, and you want to find glasses that provide protection from both. (Look for glasses that offer 99 percent protection from UVB and at least 95 percent protection from UVA.) While UVB helps us synthesize vitamin D, too much of it can hurt the eye and possibly lead to cataracts. The outer layers of the eye can also be harmed by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.
While you're busy hunting down a safe pair of sunglasses, look for a pair with polycarbonate lenses -- these won't shatter should you be wearing them while tripping over a deck chair at the Four Seasons' pool.
Now that we've got our safety-minded sunglasses on, can we cross off all the items on our good health checklist? Close, but not quite. Once you've got your shades on, the protection they provide to your skin is offset just slightly by the increased likelihood that you'll have acne to show for your sunglasses-wearing trouble. How can you minimize the risk? Keep reading to find out.