Do I Need to Wear Sunglasses While Driving?
Summer is officially here! Hurrah! And while we may pop on our sunnies for holidays of lazing in the pool and weekends of barbecues and beers, do we give much thought to the importance of the right eyewear while driving?
Truth is, choosing the right pair of sunglasses can make driving in the summer sun not only a whole lot more comfortable, but significantly safer too. And it’s not always just a case of digging out the ol’ Ray-Bans, the shape, tint and type of lens needs to be given some thought.
Why do we need to wear sunglasses while driving?
Well, first of all, sunglasses reduce glare from the sun, meaning you don’t need to squint – and that can not only be the difference between feeling well and having a pounding headache, but also between arriving safely at your destination and being involved in a collision. On foggy days the correct lens can make things clearer, and on rainy days light reflecting off wet roads won’t distract or confuse.
Will any old pair of sunglasses do?
Unfortunately not! There are a few things to take into consideration:
You can choose between a ‘standard’ lens that reduces the brightness and provides UV protection or a polarized lens which not only reduces the brightness and provides UV protection, but also give superior glare reduction compared to a standard lens. They will improve contrast, sharpen detail and reduce strain.
No fashion choices here, please! Yellow, blue, green and pink can interfere with your perception of colour and therefore contrast and detail. The safest and most common colour choices are grey, grey/green and brown. They reduce the brightness but don’t affect the contrast too much, maintaining or even improving the detail you see. Colour is a subjective thing and what’s right for one person won’t necessarily be right for another, so it’s always important to try different lenses when buying sunspecs.
It’s a mistake to think you can just buy a pair of glasses with a dark tint and only wear them on the sunniest days as even if there is less sun, sunglasses can improve vision and make your eyes feel more comfortable. But if the glasses allow too much light to reach your eyes however, then you’re wasting your time. We can help and advise on the level of tint required, depending on your sensitivity and requirements. If you don’t want to have to buy more than one pair, then sometimes photochromic lenses, which change automatically depending on the light levels, may be the answer. A graduated tint that is lighter towards the bottom of the lenses may also be useful in some circumstances.
Most sunspecs have larger lens shapes that clear glasses, this is party a style choice but partly because a larger lens cuts out more light! It’s a good idea to find a pair which fit really well and relatively close to the eyes to cut out as much light as possible, while maintaining good peripheral vision.
Prescription or Not?
It’s surprising how many people who wear specs for driving and are dependent in a prescription for doing so, but don’t consider this in their sun protection, or even know it’s possible. If you are reliant on specs for distance vision and driving, then ideally you should really have the same prescription in your sunspecs. It’s relatively straightforward to do and 99% of the sunglasses we supply can be made to your exact prescription specification as well as the lens type/colour/tint and frame combination.
Hmm… so, not quite as simple as one may have thought?
A Short History of Sunglasses
We often imagine sunglasses to be a recent invention – a modern way to look cool and avoid making crow’s feet! But our ancestors too, weren’t keen on squinting in sunny weather and came up with the idea a very long time ago: As long as 2,000 years ago, in fact, the Inuits were fashioning what they called sun goggles out of bone or wood. Cut to sit close to the face they had narrow slits in them to limit the amount of light and glare that could reach the eye and would have been an essential item in a world where snow blindness was a real possibility.
The Chinese experimented with the use of flat lenses made of smoky quartz to minimise glare in the 12th century and there are even reports that the covert look created by wearing sunglasses was utilised by magistrates to avoid giving away their facial expressions! James Dean, eat your heart out!
Many believe it was the gondoliers of 18th century Venice who first wore tinted glasses specifically designed to offer protection against the sun’s rays. They were called Goldoni glasses, after the actor and playwright Carlos Goldoni, who, it is said was partial to wearing green sunglasses with green silk shades sewn to the rim! Simultaneously, around 1752 James Ayscough began experimenting with using coloured lenses to correct vision problems – an idea which we now know has much merit.
In 1885 we are told by a military surgeon in his work ‘The Optical Manual’, that British soldiers were given ‘two oval flat pieces of blue-tinted glass, set in front of two boat-shaped fine wire-gauze sides’ to act as ‘eye-protectors’ in countries such as India and Egypt.
The first recorded use of the word ‘sunglasses’, however, was in 1891 when a sports journalist reporting on a baseball game in Chicago, noted that a player ‘had lost his sunglasses and misjudged the ball frightfully’! Numerous American newspaper adverts from the late 19th and early 20th century offered sunglasses in different shades of amber and smoke.
In the golden age of Hollywood actors and actresses made sunglasses the fashion accessory they are today – not only did it make them more mysterious (like the Chinese judges!) but the dark lenses also hid the red eyes caused by late nights and studio lights! The market caught on and mass-produced sunglasses soon made the trend accessible to the man on the street. By 1937, 20 million pairs of sunglasses were being sold per year.
Polarised lenses had been invented in 1936, which provided much greater protection against the sun’s damaging rays, and when Ray Ban began making them into aviator glasses for pilots, the ‘cool factor’ of a stylish pair of sunglasses was guaranteed.
It’s a trend that’s here to stay so whether you simply want to look like a movie star, or need some serious protection against the summer sun, pop into any one of our stores and take your pick!