Why Aren't You Wearing Sunglasses? Surprising Data from The Vision Council

8:00 AM

Raleigh, North Carolina -- I am officially calling you out.  We all know that we should be wearing sunglasses every time we step outdoors, right? According to recent data published by the Vision Council, it may be time to rethink this assumption. Surprisingly large amounts of surveyed Americans not only are not wearing their sunglasses, they don't even associate sunglasses wear with health benefits.  Here are some of the survey findings that may shock you (all results are from the 2012 Vision Council report):
  • 27% of Americans don't wear sunglasses, at all
  • 20.2% believe that they "are not at risk from sun exposure"
  • 10.8% responded that wearing sunglasses "is not important to them"
As an optometrist practicing in Raleigh, it was really disheartening to learn that so many of my fellow Raleighites don't wear sunglasses.  In fact, only 26% of those surveyed in my community wear sunglasses on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, the Raleigh area has a large amount of risk for UV damage during the year -- 29.86% of days out of the year have a UV exposure classified as extreme or very high risk for damage.  So by not wearing sunglasses, my fellow citizens are exposing themselves to high risks for damage.  We are getting UV exposure even on cloudy or overcast days -- but why aren't we protecting ourselves?
Top 25 American Cities with the highest number of days of extreme or very high risk UV damage.  Unfortunately, some of these cities are also some of the worst at wearing sunglasses or believing in their importance  via

Sunglasses are an item so ubiquitous in today's society, they sometimes seem like more of a fashion statement than a medical device.  The great thing about sunglasses is that they are truly both.  Just like dermatologists are checking your skin for possible cancerous growths from UV damage, your optometrist is checking your eyes for UV damage at every yearly visit.  By looking for cataracts, eyelid cancers, and growths on the white of the eye like pinguecula and pterygium, your eye doctor can find early sun damage and intervene before it is too late.  If you are one of those people who think sunglasses are inconvenient, or not important for you, please take a step back to reconsider.  The UV damage you are exposing yourself to today will not affect you for years, but by the time you have vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration, it is too late to change your habits. We live in a world where information is right at our finger tips, so let's start with something easy that can make a difference in your health for the rest of your life.  It all starts with just putting on your sunglasses.  Follow our lead, or any of the other trendsetters or bloggers or celebrities that are so much more stylish than we claim to be, but are setting a great example!

Dr. L wearing Maui Jim

Dr. S wearing her favorite cat eye shaped shades
For more articles about why sun protection matters and what your doctor is looking for during an examination that is evidence of sun damage occurring in your eyes, please follow these links:
one, two, three 

 Images of Dr. S and Dr. L are courtesy Melissa DeLorme Photography

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  1. Great post! I will pass this information to my patients.


    1. Thanks! We need to get Raleigh off the "worst" list