Periodic graphics: The chemistry of sunglasses | May 9, 2016 Issue - Vol. 94 Issue 19 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 19 | p. 27
Issue Date: May 9, 2016

Periodic graphics: The chemistry of sunglasses

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning describes how your shades protect your eyeballs from the sun’s radiation
By Andy Brunning
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: sunglasses, UV protection, photochromic lenses, napthopyran, tint

To download a pdf of this article, visit

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit

This article has been translated into Spanish by and can be found here.

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KAYIIRA JOSEPH (May 9, 2016 1:04 PM)
This is good. What could be the effect of putting on sunglasses in winter?
J. A. Beck (May 11, 2016 4:07 PM)
Years ago I put my sunglasses through a UV/Vis against air & they blocked everything. I wear them religiously whenever the sun's out, winter too. I'm almost 70, have 20/20 vision, no glaucoma, no cataracts. I credit that to wearing sunglasses since I was in my teens to protect my eyes.
Paul Krebaum (May 19, 2016 2:54 AM)

Snow is an excellent reflector of UV light, so sunglasses help protect against snow blindness and cornea damage. Water is also a good reflector. On my first trip to Arizona as a kid I spent an afternoon under an aluminum awning, but next to the in-ground pool. I wound up with a mild sunburn just from the reflected UV.


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