When Sunglasses Are More Practical and Stylish

Sunglasses occupy an interesting space in the fashion world. They are practical on the one hand but stylish on the other. Sunglasses are both functional and statement making. Most of us wear them for their function; some of us think about the fashion first. That leads us to pro golfer Phil Mickelson and his recent adoption of sunglasses on the golf course.

It was rare to see sunglasses on a golf course 20 years ago. And even before that, greats like Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer would never be seen on the course with shades. It was considered impolite and improper. To keep the sun out of their eyes, they wore hats or visors.

Sunglasses are more common on the course today, but still not the norm among pros. So when Mickelson started showing up sporting designer shades, curious minds wanted to know why. It turns out that his reason for putting on the shades is more practical than anything else.

An Anticancer Strategy

Mickelson recently spent time in the CBS broadcast booth with the usual crew consisting of Jim Nance, Nick Faldo, Frank Nobilo, and Ian Baker-Finch. At one point during the action, Nobilo asked Mickelson about his new fondness for sunnies. It turns out Mickelson is wearing them as an anticancer measure.

He explained that he had been using an anticancer cream for a few weeks during the COVID-19 shutdown. The cream is essentially a topical chemotherapy treatment. It makes the skin extremely sensitive, so Mickelson thought it best to wear sunglasses so as to protect the skin around his eyes.

Mickelson apparently enjoyed the results so much that he decided to continue wearing shades while playing golf. He says his eyes are less fatigued at the end of a round and that he doesn’t spend all day squinting. It sounds as though he has no plans to give up his shades anytime soon.

As for whether or not he is being treated for cancer or just trying to be proactive, Mickelson didn’t say. But his decision to wear sunglasses make sense. The skin around the eyes is already among the most sensitive, so anything that might make it more sensitive is good reason to be cautious.

Other Practical Purposes

Mickelson is not alone in wearing sunglasses for the practical benefits. According to fashion eyewear designer Olympic Eyewear, there are plenty of medical conditions for which wearing sunglasses is beneficial. For example, people with glaucoma might find sunlight and bright lights indoors too much to handle. U2 front man Bono wears sunglasses for this very reason.

There are people who suffer with a condition known as bilateral vestibular hypofunction for whom bright lights can be extremely problematic. Not only do they wear sunglasses outside during the day, they sometimes wear them at night while riding in a car or walking down a brightly lit city street.

Even people without specific medical conditions sometimes wear sunglasses for practical purposes. Have you been to the optometrist lately? If so, have they offered you a pair of temporary, disposable sunglasses to wear on the way home? They do so because the eye drops used to dilate the pupils in anticipation of an eye exam take a while to wear off. Sunglasses are intended to protect the eyes until they return to normal.

And now you know what is going on with Phil Mickelson and his new fondness for sunglasses. Like so many other people, fashion is not his first concern. He wears sunglasses for the practical benefits they offer. Fashion is all well and good, but function is more important.