Donning a good pair of sunglasses is truly a summer rite of passage. The shades go on, the car windows go down, and the music on the stereo goes way, way up. The cicadas buzz their approval and the birds whistle at you as you pass by – it’s a good time to be alive.
For a promotional product it’s a great time to be a pair of sunglasses. People just love reaching for you – you’re a marker of a great day of sunshine ahead. You’re a part of making people feel happy, prepared and, if your designers got it right, a little cool and stylish too. Better yet, the logo that paid it for is sitting in a very favorable place; right at eye level, behind that big beautiful smile. You can’t ask for a better branding impression than that! Then consider the number of people the average person interacts with during a day, multiply that by the lifetime of the glasses and you soon get a pretty impressive number – especially when you consider the relatively low purchase price of the product.
It’s no wonder sunglasses are one of the promotional product industry’s all-time bestselling summer products.
However, there is a counter-seasonal trend – backed up by some compelling evidence – often overlooked in the industry that makes an even better case for sunglasses in the winter.
The light that comes from the sun illuminates our world in a dazzling way. It streaks across the 93 million miles between the sun and the earth in a mere 8 ½ minutes, plummeting through the ozone layer into our atmosphere. It then ricochets off the uneven surface of the earth in a mad series of random angles all around us. The light that hits our eyes comes then not just from above, but from all around us. Consider that the “reflected” light is of enough power that, on a cloudless night with the moon above, it’s merely the reflected sun light off the face of the moon that provides all of the natural ambient light we see.
In the summer only about 6% of the power of that light is reflected back at us, absorbed by the darker greens and brown of the season’s palette. But off of snow that percentage jumps up to a staggering 90% – with nearly double the amount of UV rays hitting our eyes than in the summer. This neatly explains phenomena of snow blindness (aka photokeratitis) and the dangers associated with it.
Like your skin, your eye’s retinas can be damaged by the sun. The higher the UV count and the longer the exposure, the greater the potential danger becomes. Skiers often spend hours on the slopes, and even longer if the skies are clear and sunny. Worse than that, the higher the elevation of the ski run – the higher the UV rays (UV radiation increases 10 percent for every 1,000 feet you go above sea level).
But it’s not just skiers that face the danger. Any kind of outdoor activity in a snowy landscape poses the same risks. Even driving in conditions with snow on the surfaces around you increases the UV levels exponentially.
Sunglasses are an easy and effective way to reduce this risk – you might even begin to think of them like sunscreen for the retina. Different glasses have UV ratings (380 or better is advisable for winter), but even the colour of the lens can make a big difference; yellow, green and blue lenses are not recommended for winter – go for brown, grey or mirrored instead. The larger the lens coverage is the better, too.
So take heed next time you step into Old Man Winter’s dazzling daytime light show, and remember those around you too. If you’ve ever planned a company ski trip, or other snowy outdoor event, it’s likely the idea of sun damage never even entered into your thinking. Never fear though, the answer is neither complicated nor expensive – just consider it the new winter rite of passage.