Ahhh…there’s nothing quite like lounging by the pool in the sunshine, sipping on an ice-cold lemonade and enjoying the warm weather. Of course, the sunlight bouncing off the cool pool water can hurt your eyes, so we hope you have a cool pair of shades.

Do you like to wear sunglasses? Not only can they sharpen your image, but they perform an important function: protecting your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. And they’re not just for summertime, either. Sunglasses can be just as important in the winter!

When you’re sledding or skiing, the bright light of the sun bouncing off the snow can blind you. A good pair of sunglasses will help you enjoy your outdoor sporting activities to the fullest. Your parents might also want to wear sunglasses when they’re driving if there’s a lot of snow on the ground.

Sunglasses have been around a long time. Glasses with flat panes of smoky quartz were used to protect the eyes in China as early as the 12th century. Further experimentation with tinted lenses occurred in the mid-18th century.

It wasn’t until the late 1920s, though, that inexpensive, mass-produced sunglasses were introduced to the United States by Sam Foster. Foster’s sunglasses became popular on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he sold them under the name Foster Grant from a Woolworth store on the Boardwalk.

Today, there are an amazing number of options when it comes to sunglasses. You can get cheap sunglasses at discount stores for a few dollars. On the other hand, you can also get sunglasses at specialty optical shops that cost hundreds of dollars.

What kind of sunglasses you need and how much they cost will depend upon the materials and technologies used. For example, the cheapest sunglasses use nothing more than tinted glass or plastic to help protect your eyes from bright sunlight. Depending upon the color of tint used, the sunglasses will absorb certain types of light and reflect others. These cheapest sunglasses rarely offer the kind of protection your eyes really need.

More expensive sunglasses will likely have polarized lenses. These special lenses help to block glare from light reflecting off of various horizontal surfaces, such as water or a highway. Polarized glasses only allow vertically-polarized light through, so glare from a lake, for example, will be blocked.

High quality sunglasses will also usually feature protection from various types of ultraviolet radiation. These are the sun’s harmful rays that can cause sunburn and many types of eye problems. Of course, high prices don’t always mean the best protection. Instead of judging your sunglasses by their price tag, instead look at what percentage of UV rays they block.

46 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (15 votes, avg. 4.67 out of 5)
  1. We thought today’s wonder was cool. Kaitlyn liked hearing that sunglasses were good for winter, too. We thought it was interesting to read about light bouncing off of the snow. Olivia would like to place an order for wooden sunglasses from Shwoods as soon as humanly possible. Alliyah thought it was cool to learn that sunglasses can be made from things other than plastic.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about albino kitties, mountain lions, any wild big cat, Garfield, panthers, cats chasing mice, or the musical Cats.

    • Wohoo, thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis today, Mrs. Ski’s AM Class! We are so happy that today’s sunny Wonder got you movin’ and shakin’! We think that WONDERing about cool shades that protect your precious eyes is a fun way to start the day! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kaitlyn, Olivia and Alliyah! :)

      We can’t wait for tomorrow’s purrr-iffic Wonder! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Grace W! We’re so excited you enjoyed our Wonder today, but we are sorry to hear that the video isn’t working for you. Perhaps you can try again later, refresh the page, or try out another computer. If you’re at school, sometimes videos don’t always work due to Internet connections and restrictions. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Great guessing, Bananapeel81! We can’t wait to find out what’s purring at Wonderopolis tomorrow! Thanks for joining the fun! :)

    • Hey there, Sam! We hope you learned a thing or two from today’s Wonder– cool shades are a great way to protect your eyes! :)

  2. We thought today’s Wonder was cool because we watched a video about people making wooden sunglasses. We were surprised that we would need to wear them in the winter.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about cats, how many types of cats there are, lions and tigers…perhaps ligers?,Nyan Cat App, Sphinx, or Lynx.

    • Hey Wonder Friends in Mrs. Ski’s PM Class! We are so glad to hear that today’s sunny Wonder made you smile! :) We also enjoyed learning about sunglasses that are made from unique materials, like wood! Good thing we’ve been WONDERing about different ways to protect our eyes, too! Hopefully you won’t have to squint!

      Thanks for WONDERing about tomorrow’s feline Wonder… we can’t wait to find out what it will be! Great guesses (and excellent rhyming, too!) :)

  3. Hey wonderopolis, how are you guys? I loved this wonder because now I know that you can wear sunglasses in any season. I’ve only been skiing one time. I went slowly the first turn. Then faster and faster and then my fastest. It was really fun. I suggest you guys should do a wonder about video games. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about cats or tigers or some animal related to a cat or tigers. From : Mushkale oh and Joyeux Noel! (That means Merry Christmas in French) P.S. I’m Canadian, French is our 2nd language.

    • Nice work, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Jones’ 3rd Grade! We hope you’ll visit us tomorrow to find out if you guessed correctly! We can’t wait! :)

    • WOHOO, it’s the best of both worlds, Bryleigh! Thanks for WONDERing about the benefits of wearing cool shades! We hope you and your WONDERful sisters are having a marvelous Monday! :)

    • Great question, Randi! The people in today’s Wonder video made the sunglasses frames (or shades) out of wood! The actual lenses are to protect your eyes from the sun, and are made with a very hard plastic! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear it, Danielle! It’s cool to wear shades AND protect your eyes at the same time! How WONDERful! :)

    • Super WONDERful guesses, Melissa! How exciting… we can barely wait for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for sharing your comments! :)

  4. Hey Wonderopolis!
    I go skiing a lot in this cold weather and I totally agree with you on the fact that we do need sunglasses in the winter too! Most people, when they think of sunglasses, they think of summer but NO! Sunglasses are very important for all seasons! Thanks for doing this WONDER to remind people!! Talk to ya later,
    -CHATTER :)

    • We’re so glad you’re taking care of your eyes while you hit the slopes, Wonder Friend Chatter! We’re so happy that you shared your comment with us! :)

    • We’re so glad that you’ve learned something new with us today, Tray! We hope you have a terrific Tuesday– thanks for stopping by to say hello! :)

  5. That was a really interesting wonder! I thought that all sunglasses were the same and they all offered the same kind of care for your eyes, until I read the article! Thank you for today’s wonder! It was cool. That was really cool! ;) :)

    • Hooray, we’re so glad you learned something new with us today, Berkleigh! It’s so important to protect your eyes– so now you can wear cool shades all year round! Have a WONDERful day! :)

  6. Actually, I wear eyeglasses, and my momma and daddy wear them and they wear contacts, too. And only one of my siblings does not wear them. So everyone in my family wears them exept for my one of my 2 little brothers. My older sister and my little sister wear them. That was a cool wonder! Thanks! ;) :)

    • WOW, we think it’s incredible that nearly every member of your family wears glasses or contacts. We Wonder if you have ever grabbed the wrong pair of glasses by accident? We bet you knew right away that they weren’t yours! :)

    • Thank you for sharing your comment, Harry! We are always looking for awesome new Wonder ideas! Stay cool! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you wear cool shades?
  • Are sunglasses only useful in the summer?
  • How do sunglasses work?

Wonder Gallery

Cool ShadesVimeo Video

Try It Out

So do you have cool shades? Even if it’s not summer where you are, that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun with sunglasses. Try out one or more of these fun sunglasses crafts with your friends or family members. Be sure to check out the supplies you’ll need before you get started, so you can make a quick trip to the store if necessary.

When you’re finished, upload a picture of your finished craft to Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you make!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ The Sun and the Earth lesson, children explore the relationship between the Earth and the Sun and how this relationship affects observable phenomena on Earth.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may have you saying a big, “Meow!”

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.