Sunglasses – Pop Culture Icon or Real Protection?

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Sunglasses – Pop Culture Icon or Real Protection?

Asking if sunglasses are a pop culture icon or real eye protection is almost like asking if the chicken or the egg came first.

As early as prehistoric times, humans figured out that the sun’s rays were bright enough and strong enough to do real damage to eyes. The glare from the light could reduce the ability to see, and vision was critical to safety and survival.

The Inuits were right all along about shielding their eyes from the bright glare of the sun. They may have created the first sunglasses by carving flat eye shields out of walrus ivory. These shields fit across the nose bridge, and they had narrow slits in them to reduce the amount of light that could reach the eyes. The intrepid wearer peered through the slits.

Even though visibility wasn’t great, it was improved by reducing the glare of light on the snow and ice. Of course, these early sunglasses weren’t just functional eye protection. Many of the shields sported intricate carvings.

By the first century A.D., Nero too wore eye protection – in the form of emeralds. He had specially designed lenses made so he could watch gladiator events in the Coliseum without the glare obstructing his sight. Using emeralds as lenses priced most fans out of using eye protection.

Other materials for “improved” versions of sunglasses included polished quartz and tinted glass; not everyone could afford to protect their eyes, much less look good with a fashion accessory.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that sunglasses became firmly established for widespread use. Bausch & Lomb invented the Ray Ban aviator style of protective eyewear, and of course, these sunglasses had green lenses to reduce glare.

Since then, many designers have copied the aviator style of sunglasses, and they have improved on them as well, with protective leases, newer frame materials and diverse lens colors. As these improvements have been made, people have found themselves falling in love with sunglasses as an accessory.

Their design interpretations have made sunglasses a pop culture icon. You may think of Tom Cruise when you think of aviator styled sunglasses and of the Blues Brothers when you think of Wayfarer sunglasses. The Oakley Holbrook frames feature the right amount of curve to the lenses, making Antonio Banderas and Jessica Biel look awesome in these frames.

While looking good in your sunglasses in important, your eye protection is even more important. You need protection from UV rays all year long, including on those hazy days when the sun seems less bright than usual. Well made sunglasses can provide you with real protection for your eyes.

The eyewear industry has came a long way since the days of walrus ivory and emeralds. You can choose from many different fashions and styles for your protective eyewear.

That should make protecting your vision all the easier.


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