Why do we wear sunglasses?

Is it just to avoid the glaring blaze of the sun? To prevent us from excessive squinting, increasing the development of wrinkles located around the eye? To keep us looking cool, summery, and fashionable? ;)

Well, these are all good reasons to wear sunglasses, but one of the main reason why sunglasses are important is because they protect they eye from malignant melanoma. Melanoma is a dangerous skin cancer that affects the skin's melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that make up the color of our skin because they contain pigment or melanin. Why are we worried about skin cancer in the eye?! The retina * of the eye contains melanocytes and thus melanin; therefore melanoma/skin cancer can occur in the eye as well. Excessive ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the melanocytes and can turn them into cancerous cells, which may lead to melanoma.

*The retina is the nerve containing/neurosensory layer of the eye.

Other good reasons to wear sunglasses:

- Help prevent cataracts
- Help prevent age-related macular degenerative disease
- Prevent excessive eye strain, causing weakness
- Reduce the development of eye wrinkles
- Keep out dust, debris, sand, bugs, etc

An important note:

Just because Summer is over, don't pack your shades away! The snow is very bright. It is also a reflective surface; sun rays bounce off the snow into our eyes, straining and damaging them. Just because the sun isn't bright and yellow, it (and its harmful UV rays) are still there during the dead of the Winter. Wearing shades in the Winter is just as important as in the more sunny months.

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