Ashley Mills, CEO, The Vision Council.

This June 27 will mark 11 years for National Sunglasses Day (NSD), an initiative that began in 2014 with the goal of raising awareness among consumers about the dangers of UV rays to the eyes. VMAIL Weekend sat down with Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, to talk about how the initiative started, where it’s going this year, and how the effort to promote healthy vision has grown in popularity these past 11 years.

Question 1: How many years has The Vision Council been celebrating National Sunglasses Day and what was the initial inspiration behind the NSD effort?

The Vision Council began celebrating National Sunglasses Day in 2014 with the goal of educating consumers about the damaging effects of UV rays to the eye and promoting healthy vision through the regular use of sunglasses. Back in 2014, our data showed that 27 percent of people rarely or never wear sunglasses, and among those that do regularly wear sunglasses, 35 percent did not know if they provided UV protection—this showed us that there was a need to educate more adults about UV safety and an opportunity to empower individuals to make smart choices when shopping for eyewear products.

Question 2: How has NSD changed over the years?

The way we celebrate National Sunglasses Day has certainly evolved over the years, but our mission to educate people everywhere about the importance of UV safety and wearing sunglasses year-round has held true. The first year we celebrated, we simply ran a social media campaign and encouraged people to share a photo of themselves in their sunglasses. Since then, we’ve engaged celebrities and influencers, hosted in-person discussions and rooftop events, and raised awareness at sports events and community activities.

Question 3: Last year’s theme was Share Your #SolarFlair. How did you settle on this year’s theme of Sports Sunglasses?

This summer is bringing warmer weather, more outdoor time, and the world’s best athletes descending on Paris, raising the visibility of sunglasses for their protective, fashion and sports benefits. Building on this, we decided to spotlight sports sunglasses for National Sunglasses Day 2024 and highlight the unique features of these types of sunglasses that can protect your eyes and optimize your performance. Almost 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable with proper eye protection—National Sunglasses Day is the perfect time to remind people to take precautions to protect their eyes from UV damage and from sports-related eye injuries.

For a few weeks this summer all eyes will be on Paris and the incredible athletes competing—we hope this buzz will help spread awareness about the importance of performance eyewear and UV protection, no matter your skill level. Anyone who spends time outdoors or playing sports can benefit from a pair of sports sunglasses. I’m excited to see what fabulous eyewear Olympic athletes will wear this year.

Question 4: Can you elaborate on the details of the digital campaign to highlight the protective, fashion and sports benefits of sunglasses?

This year, we’ve developed a toolkit of customizable resources for eyecare providers and sunglass brands to use. Our hope is that others will create their own National Sunglasses Day campaign and spotlight their sports sunglasses and eyecare services, showing the breadth of options available to consumers today.

On our social channels and at we’ll be featuring several sports sunglass styles and brands and offering our followers a chance to win some sporty shades generously donated from our members. We recently released a new Focused inSights report about consumer use of sports sunglasses (see sidebar below), and we have developed resources to help you pick the best pair for your lifestyle. Finally, we’re encouraging everyone to snap a photo of themselves in their shades on June 27 and share it on social media with the hashtag #NationalSunglassesDay. We hope everyone can help us go viral.

Question 5: It's not just the optical industry that takes part in NSD. How far-reaching is the initiative?

National Sunglasses Day is one of The Vision Council’s largest initiatives, and one that is continuing to grow because sunglasses are so integral to our everyday lives. Bridging fashion and function, we see that National Sunglasses Day has the potential to extend far beyond the optical industry. Last year, our campaign garnered 319 million impressions, and saw posts from a wide range of celebrities, brands and influencers ranging from Jimmy Fallon and Sesame Street’s Elmo to the Dallas Mavericks. Sunglasses are an everyday accessory and a health necessity—so this initiative is truly for everyone.

  Ahead of National Sunglasses Day, New Report Highlights Usage and Benefits of Sports Sunglasses

The Vision Council has released the findings from its recent survey on adults’ sports sunglass usage and preferences. The report, titled Focused inSights 2024: Sports Sunglasses, explores sunglasses designed specifically for outdoor sports and physical activities, and reveals insights into the demographics, purchasing habits and product characteristics that matter most to sports sunglasses users, according to an announcement from The Vision Council. The survey results were released ahead of National Sunglasses Day on June 27, The Vision Council’s annual commemorative day dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect eyes from the sun’s powerful rays.

This year, the campaign is spotlighting sports sunglasses, encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to gear up with shades on before engaging in their favorite activities, The Vision Council said.

Conducted by Morning Consult in May 2024 and analyzed by The Vision Council’s inSights research team, the survey revealed that while only 11 percent of adults currently own sports sunglasses, usage among owners is high, particularly during activities like hiking, running, biking and fishing. Adults who own sports sunglasses are highly satisfied with them and are likely to purchase a new pair within the next year, according to the survey.

“Our findings show that sports sunglasses are not as widely adopted as traditional sunglasses, but the satisfaction rate and the types of activities sports sunglasses users participate in suggest that more individuals could benefit from having a pair in their collection,” said Alysse Henkel, vice president of Data and inSights at The Vision Council.

“It’s a misconception that sports sunglasses are only for professional athletes or long-distance cyclists. Anyone who spends time being active outdoors has a reason to own sports sunglasses. Besides providing protection from the elements, features like anti-glare coatings, non-slip nose pads and interchangeable lenses can enhance performance across various activities, no matter your skill level,” Henkel said.

Additional key takeaways from the survey include the following:

  • Men are three times more likely than women to own sports sunglasses.

  • Gen Z and Millennial men are the most likely to own sports sunglasses.

  • Among sports sunglasses owners, 68 percent own two or more pairs.

  • About half of the owners have prescription lenses in their sports sunglasses.

  • Approximately 29 percent of all respondents plan to purchase a pair of sports sunglasses in the next year.

  • The most favored features of sports sunglasses are UV protection (40 percent), style (35 percent), fit (29 percent), polarized lenses (28 percent) and scratch resistance (26 percent).

The full report is available for download in The Vision Council’s Research Download Center. It is complimentary for members of The Vision Council, with a paid option for non-members.

The Vision Council invites everyone to celebrate National Sunglasses Day on June 27 by wearing UV-protective shades outdoors and spreading the word about UV safety as part of overall eye and vision health. In addition to releasing Focused inSights 2024: Sports Sunglasses, The Vision Council will mark National Sunglasses Day with a digital campaign to highlight the protective, fashion and sports benefits of sunglasses.

The Vision Council is encouraging the optical industry to celebrate National Sunglasses Day on June 27 by sharing a sunglass selfie on social media using the hashtag #NationalSunglassesDay.

For members of the eyecare and eyewear communities who want to participate in the festivities, follow The Vision Council on social media and visit for updates, giveaways and insights from Paris-bound competitors, recreational athletes and outdoor enthusiasts about their favorite sports sunglasses. A toolkit with ready-made promotional graphics and suggested content is available for download here.