For many sun worshippers, sunglasses are both a fashion statement and a means not to squint. But for people like Linda Olson, they wear shades for a rather unique reason.
"Well when it's very sunny out and I go outside I'll instantly start sneezing if I don't have my sunglasses on so I wear my sunglasses year-round." Said Olson.
You read that right, sneezes from sunshine. It's called Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome or ACHOO for short. Linda has had plenty of eye issues over the years from cataracts in both eyes to iritis, the ACHOO reflex is just another condition that's forced her to adopt new habits.
"I keep sunglasses everywhere, I have some in my car, I have them in my purse, I have some at work, so I'm covered." Said Olson.
While most of you won't start sneezing if you venture outdoors sans sunglasses, but if you leave them behind, doctors want you to know you're opening yourself up to the suns damaging rays.
"We know that it causes sunburn, I mean you see it on your skin the redness and such and it's because it's causing damage to the actual skin cells and the eyes are very similar in some ways, it's a tissue and absorbs the light and it's going to cause damage to it." Said Dr. Jeffrey Stevens, an ophthalmologist with the Avera Medical Group Ophthalmology.
Dr. Stevens says too much sun exposure can lead to conditions like photokeratitis which causes redness and pain on the eye itself, or worse blindness. If you're like Linda and have had previous eye issues or have a family history of macular degeneration, sunglasses are critical to eye health and you don't have to break the bank to get proper protection.
"The five dollar ones are probably good versus the $100 or $200 sunglasses but what you want to look for is once again 100% UV blocking." Said Dr. Stevens.
The main factor is double checking for both UVA and UVB protection. Most adults have their favorite pair of shades, often times children are the ones left squinting and it's their eyes that need the most protection.
"Kids just unless you remind them they'll go and play and do whatever they need to do without being protected so it's important to get them into the habit of wearing sunglasses while they're outdoors." Said Dr. Stevens.
So with the sunshine in the forecast make sure you're packing your sunglasses along with your sunscreen.
"The main thing is anytime you're outdoors specifically in the summertime or if you're doing sports or such you should be wearing sunglasses and/or a hat to protect yourself." Said Dr. Stevens.
"To me your eyes are as important as putting on sunscreen because you only have two of them and you don't want to lose them!" Said Olson.
While Linda may not have to wear her sunglasses at night, with her collection of shades she definitely has a connection and new appreciation for Corey Hart's famous tune.
National Sunglasses Day is Thursday, June 27 so whether they're a designer brand or a knock-off be sure and sport your specs. For more information about sunglasses or eye health just call 877-AT-AVERA.