Although today the biggest benefit to wearing sunglasses is because they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, sunglasses have been worn for many years prior to this observation. From as early as the time Nero, who liked to watch gladiator fights through emeralds, the idea of wearing something to enhance your vision and comfort in the very bright sunlight has been demonstrated. Today we can add to this list of reasons for wearing sunglasses, they make us look cool or mysterious, they hide physical imperfections like red eyes, bags under our eyes or wrinkles, or just hide well known faces.
The idea of looking cool in cool sunglasses seems to have begun in the 1950’s with the cool, tough guy, biker look of Jimmy Dean, Marlon Brando, and Peter Fonda. In the 1970’s “the Fonze” in the hit TV show Happy Days, a show based on the every day life in the 1950’s, also reinforced this look. The concept of sunglasses and being cool also existed in the music of that time. Jazz musician, Mile Davis, recorded an album Birth of the Cool in 1957 that included songs from 1949 and 1950. On the cover of that album Miles is wearing Sunglasses, his cool trademark.
The mystery factor for wearing sunglasses probably dates back to the early days of film making when starlets wore sunglasses that were thought to help disguise themselves from the public. Today we now know that this is only partly true. While the sunglasses did help with disguise they also concealed the redness of their eyes caused by the harsh lighting on the movie set. Hence, sunglasses are a single item with a multitude of benefits.
Through the years we have come to use sunglasses to symbolize so much of what we feel or believe. Do you remember the Jackson’s all wore sunglasses to symbolize their solidarity during their final word tour? Also the use of key phases like “My future is so bright I need to wear sunglasses to see it.” And what about these unforgettable song lyrics “I wear my sunglasses at night…”
Sunglasses have a long history but today we know that there most valuable benefit is that they help protect our eyes over the long term from cataracts and macular degeneration. Since not all sunglasses are capable of protecting your eyes from UV rays, make sure that sunglasses that you purchase state this fact on their label. For active or performance sunglasses make sure that they provide all the protection that you need for your sport. For my biker friends, “Protect your eyes and enjoy the ride.”