Sunglasses are ubiquitous in our society and it’s taken as a general fact that blocking sunlight from our eyes is protective, and leads to healthier eyes in the long run. While there are definitely situations where you might find sunglasses necessary, wearing them as a daily accessory is a bad choice for optimal health. Especially for children and in lower UV locations.

Seven reasons to stop wearing sunglasses

  1. Disruption of circadian rhythm: Exposure to natural sunlight helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep-wake cycle. If you’re consistently wearing sunglasses and blocking out sunlight, it could disrupt your body’s natural rhythm and lead to sleep problems.
  2. Melatonin balance: Sunlight exposure during the day helps regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that influences your sleep patterns. Adequate exposure to natural light during the day can enhance your melatonin balance, leading to better quality sleep. To reset your circadian rhythm, go outside for at least a few minutes of natural light first thing in the morning, around midday, and at sunset without sunglasses or sunscreen.
  3. Mood enhancement: Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. Exposure to natural light can improve your mood and overall well-being, and can also positively impact your eye health indirectly, by reducing stress and tension that may contribute to eye strain.
  4. Blue light regulation: Sunlight contains a mixture of different wavelengths, including blue light. While excessive exposure to blue light from digital devices can strain your eyes, natural sunlight provides a balanced spectrum of light that may help regulate the effects of blue light, reducing eye fatigue and discomfort.
  5. Eye growth and development: In infants and young children, exposure to sunlight is crucial for proper eye growth and development. Adequate sunlight helps the eyes develop the ability to focus and coordinate effectively, which lays the foundation for good vision in later life. Children’s sunglasses are often adorable, but a harmful choice for their optimal development.
  6. Protection against becoming nearsighted (myopia): Recent studies suggest that spending time outdoors and exposing your eyes to natural sunlight may help reduce the risk of myopia (nearsightedness) – a problem with distance vision, in children and adolescents. Sunlight’s brightness and the visual stimuli it provides outdoors are believed to contribute to better visual development and reduced incidence of myopia.
  7. Eye strain: Wearing sunglasses for extended periods, especially indoors or in low-light conditions, can cause eye strain and headaches. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve worn transitions-type of eyeglasses, which can’t discern where you are, and often turn into sunglasses in bright indoor lights.

Change your dietary habits and it’ll be easier to stop wearing sunglasses

I grew up in Seattle and wore sunglasses year-round. My eyes felt sensitive to bright light and I chalked it up to having blue eyes and living somewhere that wasn’t super-sunny all the time. To my surprise, within just a couple of months of giving up vegetarianism and industrialized foods, I no longer “needed” to wear sunglasses all the time.

When I went back to school to study nutrition I learned why. I was deficient in critical fat-soluble nutrients that come from animal products, and I was regularly consuming inflammatory vegetables oils and margarine.

Change these dietary habits first and it’ll be easy to stop wearing sunglasses.

  1. Avoid seed oils like canola, cottonseed, soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, and other “vegetable” oils. They’re inflammatory to the whole body and cause these problems:
    • Oxidative stress: Seed oils, especially when exposed to heat or light during processing or cooking, can become oxidized. Oxidized oils generate harmful free radicals that can induce oxidative stress in the body, which damages cells throughout the body, including those in the eyes.
    • Nutrient deficiencies: Seed oils are typically low in important nutrients that the eyes need, such as antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and zinc, which are crucial for maintaining good eye health. A diet lacking in these nutrients increases the risk of eye diseases too.
    • Imbalance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids: Seed oils, particularly those high in omega-6 fatty acids, can upset the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body. An excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3s has been linked to inflammation, which may have implications for eye health. Eliminating excessive omega-6 alone will bring you back into a better balance.
    • High levels of pro-inflammatory compounds: Seed oils are rancid, deodorized, and altered in their structure, which means they contain higher levels of pro-inflammatory compounds such as omega-6 fatty acids and arachidonic acid. Chronic inflammation can contribute to various eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye syndrome.
  2. Consume nutrient-rich natural fats from animals and plants, including beef tallow, pork lard, butter, unheated olive oil, unpasteurized almonds, whole sunflower seeds, and freshly ground flax seeds.
    • These fats that have been consumed by humans for thousands of years will bring down inflammation in your body, provide the building blocks for healthy cell membranes, and include nutrients that support eye health, like pre-formed Vitamin A (which is only found in animal foods).
    • These fats that have been consumed by humans for thousands of years will bring down inflammation in your body, provide the building blocks for healthy cell membranes, and include nutrients that support eye health, like pre-formed Vitamin A (which is only found in animal foods).

How to stop wearing sunglasses – and what to do instead

When you’re ready to stop wearing sunglasses, know that it doesn’t have to be all at once. You can wean yourself off slowly. Start by spending time outdoors in the early morning and late evening hours to help your eyes adjust to subtle natural light. Then gradually build in some midday breaks outside without sunglasses in areas where there won’t be a lot of glare. When you’re outdoors and already in the shade, always take your sunglasses off, to get more indirect bright light exposure.

When you’re ready to cut out sunglasses (almost) entirely, have these options at the ready:

  • Wear a hat
  • Carry a parasol
  • Set up a shade structure, such as a pop-up tent or shade cloth
  • Stake out places in nature that provide natural shade

It’s important to note that sunglasses have their benefits and I don’t think they should never be worn. I keep a pair around for the occasional boating trip, sunny snow days, or driving when the sun is setting in front of me. Ultimately, the decision to wear sunglasses is a personal one and depends on individual needs and preferences. I just want you to be informed so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.


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