Family Health Magazine - PHARMACY CARE
Shape Up Your Shades
Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light
It’s taken years for us to realize the importance of protecting our eyes from the sun. Once we fried both skin and face at the beach without a worry. Today, we know that too much sun can lead to skin cancer (see Sun Safety article). Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can also damage eyes, reducing the ability to see. Cataracts may form, and the retina may also be damaged. Remember, UV light reflects off pavement, sandy beaches, snowy glaciers, and road surfaces and penetrates water. Being in the water does not protect our skin or our eyes from UV light.
Most exposure to the sun occurs before the age of 20. To properly protect our children, we need to put appropriate sunglasses on them. For kids, a baseball cap and a wrap-around set of aviation style sunglasses are cool.
Adults need sunglasses too. Unfortunately, only 15 per cent of adults put on sunglasses when they head outdoors. Next time you head outside, don’t forget your shades!
Frames come in a wide variety of colours. Sporty-looking wrap-around frames cut down on glare and UV light from the side and below. Wrap-around frames are best as they protect not only the eyes, but also the skin on the eyelids and eyebrows.
If style is key, you can buy Ray-Bans™ and other ultra-modern, ultra-expensive sunglasses. However, more reasonably priced sunglasses can cost as little as $20 to $30.
Be careful when considering an inexpensive pair of sunglasses. Lenses are sometimes pressed or moulded, not ground. Pressed lenses can have warps or distortions that may cause headaches and eye fatigue.
Today, the maximum amount of UV protection you can get in over-the-counter sunglasses is UV 400. This is fine for most outdoor activities and sports like baseball. Lenses up to UV 550 can be ordered for those who climb glaciers or mountains. It is also possible to order tinted polycarbonate or plastic lenses with a UV coating.
If you are gardening or doing yard work, you will want sunglasses that double as a safety lens. Ask your dispenser to go through your choices of safety lenses and frames. You can look sporty, while staying smart and sun safe.
Tips on choosing sunglasses
- You can find over-the-counter sunglasses at drug stores and optical shops. They have plano lenses (meaning no correction in the lens) and are labelled as having 100 percent
UV protection. However, they only block UVA rays. Keep in mind that your glasses should block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Photochromatic lenses, also called transitional lenses, are another option. These lenses automatically darken when you are outdoors and lighten when you go inside. This change in the lens is triggered by ultraviolet light. However, photochromatic lenses do not work as well inside a car since the windshield blocks a lot of the UV light.
They can also take several minutes to change when inside. In very cold temperatures, they may darken slightly more than in normal conditions. In very high temperatures they may not darken quite as much. They also tend to age after two or three years and take on a dirty, yellow appearance.
- If you are having prescription sunglasses made, you may choose a C15 neutral grey filter (a lens that blocks out 85 per cent of the light). Clear chemical coating will block out both UV rays and infrared rays. A grey filter is a good choice for driving glasses as they dampen colours evenly, so seeing traffic lights properly is not a problem. Green and brown lenses can alter the colours you see and may interfere with judging traffic lights.
- Polarized sunglasses and mirror-coated sunglasses both reduce glare, but must be coated to block out UV light. Polarized sunglasses can be made of glass, but they are heavy. Usually a plastic lens is used. A scratch coating on both sides of the lens is also recommended. This can be done for about $25 for two lenses.
- Amber and orange lenses can enhance contrast for depth perception. However, because an orange lens blocks out blue light, it can be more difficult to distinguish traffic lights.
- Although dark lenses seem to offer more UV protection, it is the clear chemical coating or the chemical built into the lens that blocks the UV light. A dark lens without UV protection may allow more ultraviolet light to the eye. As the pupil opens wider in response to the dark lens, it can be a hazard instead of a help.
- Clip-on sunglasses are another choice for those who wear glasses. They clip on to your usual frame in a number of ways, or come as a set. Plastic polarized clip-ons, which are thinner, lighter and contain a UV block, are also available.
- At the high end of the range are Serengeti™ glasses, made with photochromatic glass lenses. The lenses have an ultraviolet block, an infrared block and a blue light filter. They come with a copper-coloured lens and can be polarized. They are ideal for pilots.
There are many types of sunglasses from which to choose. Ask your eye doctor or optician to help select the right pair for you.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [PC_FHb08]