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Do you need sunglasses on a cloudy day?

Don't forget to protect your eyes!

Fun in the sun requirements: shorts, tank tops, bathing suits, flip-flops, and, of course, sunglasses. Heck, the word “sun” is literally in the product name. On the prettiest of summer days, those fashionable frames are an absolute necessity, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees.

But what about on cloudy days when it’s not so warm out? Do you need to be wearing sunglasses then? Yes, without question.

Think about it: the sun may disappear from a visual standpoint when it goes into hiding behind the clouds, but that doesn’t mean it is gone entirely - not in the same way it is at night, anyway. Those white and grey masses that block the sun’s rays are doing very little to protect you, even if the opposite seems true. UV rays are so intense that they actually seep through the layers of fog that make up the cloud. How are they able to do this? Two popular scientific theories explain:

  • UV rays can theoretically bounce off the clouds (similar to the way the sun can “bounce off the water” and burn skin cells quicker when you’re out enjoying a day on a boat). As they bounce, they can wind up reflecting off the sides of more dense clouds, which then radiate down towards the earth.
  • Similarly, UV rays can be redirected downward via “thinner” patches of mist, putting you in direct contact with those harmful rays.

In fact, studies have shown that up to 80 percent of the UV rays can pass through patches of fog at any given time. So, what does this mean for your eyes?

It means that your eyes can be vulnerable whenever you are outside during the day. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, what season of the year it is, or what the weather’s like outside. No matter the conditions, your eyes are at risk if you don’t protect them, and one of the best ways to do that is by wearing sunglasses.

With that said, there are plenty of different types of sunglasses out there - and not all are created equally. When searching for the right pair to protect you every day of the year, you’ll want to find a brand with 99-100 percent UV protection (and 100 percent is obviously better), and large lenses.

Factors such as color, polarization, and tint are nice for style purposes and differentiation in color tones, but they don’t help with actually protecting your eyes.

Remember, you only get one set of eyes. If you have good eyesight, you need to do all you can to keep it that way. If you already wear glasses or have a family history of cataracts or glaucoma, then you shouldn’t put any more stress on your body by being careless. Wear your sunglasses, even on the cloudiest of days. Your older self will surely thank you.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. July is UV Awareness Month.