Humans have been protecting their eyes for thousands of years. Protective eyewear has come a long way from when the Inuit of North America cut holes in caribou antlers in order to protect their eyes from snow blindness. Goggles and sunglasses are now designed to protect the wearers eyes from all kinds of dangerous intrusions, both small and large. And increasingly, protective eyewear is designed overwhelmingly as a fashion accessory.
Sunglasses: protecting your eyes, and making them look good at the same time
The primary purpose of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet radiation given off by the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can have dire consequences to the health of your eyes, causing problems as diverse as cataracts, photokeratitis, and even a number of eye cancers such as retinoblastoma or melanoma. Fortunately, well made sunglasses can provide adequate protection against the development of all of these problems. The trick for consumers is to find sunglasses that actually provide the desired protection. In order to ensure that you are getting the protection you think you are getting (or that the sunglasses claim to provide), be sure to look for some sort of identifying mark on the sunglasses that shows that the sunglasses have meet the required government regulations for protective standards.
Of course, the great thing about sunglasses is that they can be completely functional and at the same time be completely fashionable. Although there are already a myriad of good reasons why everyone should be wearing sunglasses, the health benefits of wearing sunglasses are well proven and conclusive, and if you have ever tried to drive into the sun you will recognize the importance of using sunglasses to block out the glare. On the other hand, it is good enough for some people to wear sunglasses just because they make them look good. Indeed, sunglasses have an uncanny ability to make anyone immediately cooler just by putting them on.
Sunglasses were first introduced in the 19th century as protective eyewear. It was not until sunglasses were first mass produced and sold to the masses in the 1950s on the beaches in Atlantic City that sunglasses entered the fashion mainstream. Since that time, sunglasses have been a highly sought after accessory, a must have item for any day at the beach. With hipsters like James Dean in the 1950s, sunglasses cemented their image as a cool fashion accessory. Sunglasses became more refined in the 1960s with the oversized styles of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Katherine Hepburn. It says something about the quality of these styles that current fashions are turning back the clock to the original designs. Oversized sunglasses are currently very popular amongst women, and men are even turning back to aviator sunglasses first introduced in the 1930s for American pilots.
As for future developments, designers are starting to think of ways to integrate new technologies into sunglasses. For instance, a number of sunglasses designers have already come out with models that come with an attached earpiece that can either be part of a small MP3 player or part of a Bluetooth enabled cell phone.
Goggles: protecting your eyes
The main purpose of goggles is to protect the wearer's eyes. Goggles are usually designed with larger projectiles in mind, such as dust or chemicals, or in the case of goggles designed for ball sports, sport balls. This makes goggles immediately different from sunglasses, which are more concerned with protecting the wearer's eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Goggles are also different from sunglasses in that they have for the most part failed (or even tried) to make the jump into fashionable life. While this may not be completely true for goggles used in outdoor sports such as skiing or waterskiing, this is certainly true for industrial grade goggles, or even goggles designed for use in sports such as basketball or squash. Of course, there will always be some people who think that wearing blowtorching goggles to school is a good fashion statement.
One way that goggles are becoming more like sunglasses, however, is that they are taking into account more and more the protective function of sunglasses in blocking harmful ultraviolet rays. This can be very important with goggles that are used in outdoor sports such as skiing or waterskiing where the glare of the sun on the snow or water can be debilitating. For this reason, it is important to ensure that when you are buying protective goggles for skiing or waterskiing or the like that the goggles will give you the full protecting from the sun's harmful rays that you need. Consumers can also expect goggles to make the same technological advances that sunglasses are in terms of the integration of new technology such as mobile telephones and MP3 players.
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