There’s some science behind the reason I wear sunglasses

It’s become pretty well known amongst my friends and family that I wear sunglasses all the time. And I mean all the time. Nine times out of ten I will bring sunglasses with me whenever I head out… even if it’s dark outside. It’s basically my own trademark to wear sunglasses at this point.

There are definitely several reasons behind this choice and I thought it would be interesting to discuss these, particularly because there is some scientific explanation behind why I wear my favourite accessory.

In all honesty, I first showed interest in sunglasses back when I was a big fan of the Jonas Brothers in my teen years (that fan-ship hasn’t finished yet, mind). This isn’t the scientific reason but I did have a serious case of Lovebug for that boyband. They always seemed to wear RayBan Wayfarers so I saved up and I bought my very own pair of black RayBan Wayfarers when I was 18.

Despite the fact that they made me feel like I was ‘as cool as the Jonas Brothers’, the sunglasses also opened my eyes a little more…

As I was growing up, I had noticed that I squinted a lot outdoors, even when it wasn’t a blue-skied sunny day. Or if I was talking to someone when it was mildly bright outside (and I didn’t have a baseball cap on) then I would have to shield my eyes with one hand to see properly see the person whom I was speaking too, without needing to squint a bit. It seemed like most people around me didn’t do that as much as me.

There was nothing medically wrong with my eyes though. I have been to the opticians ever since I was young, seen as I’m at an increased risk of having eye problems due to my family history. So far, I have happily walked out of every appointment after being told that I have perfect 20/20 vision!

So, what’s the problem?

Basically, I have blue eyes.

“Woah, so crazy, Katie. Tons of people have blue eyes!”, I bet you’re thinking, sarcastically (or maybe not, sorry for my presumption). And that’s true that lots of people have blue eyes… so they probably have a similar problem.

If, like me, you have blue eyes (or green or grey eyes too for that matter) then your eyes are more sensitive to light than our brown eyed friends.

Light sensitivity can also be called ‘photophobia’ but that’s usually a word that describes more of an extreme sensitivity to light that comes about as a symptom of a medical abnormality.

Long story short, if you don’t have brown eyes then you have a greater propensity to be sensitive to light.

What’s the scientific reason for this?

Brown eyes are so coloured because they have more melanin (a brown coloured pigment). Melanin protects the eye from UV rays that radiate from the sun and also protects the eye against ‘blue’ light, which is produced by the sun too, but is also produced by the screens of laptops and phones. Hence more melanin in those brown eyes means greater protection from the sun in brown eyed people.

In fact, all humans had brown eyes, until a genetic mutation caused one individual to develop blue eyes. So us bonny, blue eyed kids can probably trace ourselves back to a single common ancestor…

That’s pretty cool, right?!

I love to share that fun fact whenever someone asks about why I wear sunglasses so much. It explains a lot about why you will see me hanging out on a boat wearing sunglasses just before I’m about to scramble into my dive gear in a tropical country, or why I walk to the gym in the winter in the UK wearing sunglasses.

Even if you have brown eyes though, it’s still good to protect those ‘windows to the soul’ from bright sunlight and UV radiation.

If you know me though, that fact won’t explain why I wear sunglasses in the dark…

Yes, even on a night out I will be tempted to wear a pair. The sun may have set, but I’m still gonna be rocking sunglasses atop my forehead.

Case in point: sunglasses out at night (the night that England lost to Croatia in the World Cup, 2018)

So why do I wear sunglasses ALL the time, then?

Let’s go back to my first point about why I bought my first pair of sunglasses. I associated wearing sunglasses with looking ‘cool’. And I still do. Wearing sunglasses, in my opinion, looks really cool, and it makes me feel cool. Isn’t there a little more mystery about that person wearing sunglasses as opposed to the one that’s not?

Also, wearing sunglasses makes me feel more confident. Remember that movie Big Daddy? In probably one of the most adorable scenes, Sonny (a.k.a Adam Sandler) tries to build confidence in Julian (his son in the movie), “these are magic sunglasses… if you’re afraid, put them on and they make you invisible”. That placebo effect helped Julian to feel more comfortable when he met new people… so much so that he started taking the ‘invisibility sunglasses’ off when he was around new people.

Just like sunglasses did for Julian, the effect of knowing that I am wearing a pair gives me more confidence.

The confidence from wearing sunglasses likely harks back to my penchant for a ‘comfort object’ on my head. Back when I was in primary school I wore a baseball cap all the time. This happened between the ages of 4–11 and is probably a blog post in itself. Part of me feels like my wearing of sunglasses is just an extension of that into my adult life.

And now for the reason you’ve all been waiting for… If I go out in the dark ‘wearing’ sunglasses they are never intended to cover my eyes on the night out — I wouldn’t be able to see anything! I pop a pair on my head because they help to sweep back my hair and open my face up from my beachy-waved lion’s mane. You might use a hair band, a bandana, or a fancy hairstyle to sweep back your hair into something more practical and stylish. I opt for sunglasses. Simple.

And to be honest, if you’re a crazy party animal who stays up until the sun rises (which I really am not) then you’re very well prepared for the new day. Although I say I’m not a party animal, this did come in handy when I attended the Full Moon Party in Thailand earlier this year; I wore a pair of knock-off Ray Bans and I lasted from 10pm until 8am the next day, with my German friends… and boy, did those sunglasses come in handy whilst my weary, tired, drunk eyes watched the sun rise on that crazy party beach of Koh Phangan.

And if that doesn’t convince you why I LOVE to wear sunglasses, then I don’t know what will.

Despite the occasional comments that I may get, I will still wear sunglasses no matter how ‘stupid’ it seems. They make me happy and make me feel confident, and that’s all that really matters. Don’t let negative comments stop you from wearing things that others might judge you for. You do you!

Thanks for reading and I am excited to say that I am going to start uploading at least one Medium blog every week!! So, make sure to check out my Instagram or Facebook page to keep up to date… or even better follow me here on Medium :)

See* you later,

Katie

*this is normal to say but it’s also a pun based on the topic today lol

My current collection of sunglasses (including a pair from when I was a toddler)

Biology Grad & PADI Divemaster | Aspiring writer & visual creator | Seeking to make a difference by changing the narrative. Contact me: katieshepherd.com/links

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