A complete sunglasses lens guide

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bollwitt on Flickr

As the days get longer and summer approaches, you might just find yourself spending more time outdoors. Whatever you have planned, from driving on vacation, spending time on the beach or participating in your favorite sport, having the right type of sunglasses can make those activities more enjoyable. Understanding the available lens options will help to enhance the time you spend outside.

Whatever outdoor activity you partake in, utilizing glasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection can protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. UV rays can cause early cataract formation, macular degeneration and other aging effects. All sunglasses lenses should provide protection from UVA and UVB rays.

The right tint color can enhance your outdoor activities by eliminating glare, reducing eyestrain and providing better depth perception. Lens tints may block certain colors while enhancing others. Contrast may be increased with certain tints.

  • Grey lenses provide decreased brightness and glare while maintaining normal color perception; useful very bright conditions.
  • Brown lenses block blue light to improve contrast and depth perception, but change color perception; great for overcast to sunny weather.
  • Yellow lenses are useful in lowlight and hazy conditions and also enhance contrast; useful in indoor as well.
  • Green lenses provide mild increase contrast with maintaining color perception; another good general-purpose lens.
  • Pink and red lenses provide increased contrast but also alter color perception; can be useful in snowy conditions.
  • Polarized lenses are another lens option for your sunglasses. These lenses are available in different tints and decrease glare by use special filter to block glare of flat surfaces such as roads or water; may block certain LCD or LED screens.
  • Photochromatic lenses change colors or darken depending on the amount of UV light. These lenses are useful in variable or changing light conditions. However, these lenses may not fully darken while you are inside a vehicle.
  • Anti-reflective coatings are often used on the back surface of sunglasses to eliminate reflected glare.

Finally, the right lens material is important. Certain glasses may provide the best optical clarity and scratch resistance, but are not impact resistant. Plastic lenses are tintable and more lightweight than glass lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are the lightest weight and most impact resistant making them suitable for sport settings. Regardless of your lens selection, be sure to stay safe and have fun this summer.

~ John Barrón, O.D.
California Optometric Association

Eye protection: three ways you can protect your eyes

Photo courtesy of StoneHouseSigns.com

Photo courtesy of StoneHouseSigns.com

For many people, eye protection is an afterthought until an unfortunate event occurs. Your local optometrist will be happy to help you if an injury occurs, but you can save yourself significant aggravation by shielding your eyes from a potential injury.

Consider the following three scenarios:

1. You spent a beautiful day skiing on the slopes. The day was special due to fresh powder, clear blue skies, and laughter with friends. While reflecting on the day later that evening, you start to notice eye pain and your vision becomes blurry.

2. It’s Saturday morning, and you are rushing to clean the house before some guests arrive. While scrubbing a toilet, some of the water splashes up into your eye. The water had been mixed with toilet bowl cleaner. You notice an immediate burning sensation and blurry vision.

3. Spring has inspired you to do some yard-work. You start by trimming hedges and branches that have become over-grown during the winter months. One of the branches unexpectedly falls toward your face, scratching your eye before it lands on the ground. Your eye is tearing profusely and you are in tremendous pain.

In each of these three cases, the person will need to seek medical attention from an eye doctor for resolution. More important, all three of these injuries would have been avoided with proper protective eyewear.

In the first case, the eye was burned by harmful ultraviolent wavelengths (UV) of light. The eyes can be shielded from harmful UV ray by choosing lenses which block these wavelengths. Be sure to keep this fact in mind next time you shop for sunglasses. Recent studies are also demonstrating that our eye can be damaged by the rays emitted by computer, phone, and tablet screens. Your optometrist can help guide your choices to ensure the proper combination of protection and function.

The second case involved an alkaline chemical burn. Even when the eye is flushed and treated properly, the burn results in significant pain and the potential for permanent scarring. A simple pair of safety lenses can shield your eyes from this type of injury.

Finally, the tree branch in the third example caused a corneal abrasion. Tremendous pain and risk of infection are associated with corneal abrasions. There are endless scenarios in which an airborne object can cause an injury to the eye or to the tissues surrounding the eyes. The injuries can be superficial abrasions or scratches as described in the yard-work example, or they can involve blunt force injuries such as impact with a ball while playing a sport. Certain occupations such as automobile mechanics, construction workers, and machine operators involve an especially high risk for eye injuries due to the nature of their work. Safety glasses can protect you from industrial injuries when engaging in these activities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) has set federal standards for safety eyewear in the workplace, and employers are required to provide proper protection for employees whose jobs involve exposure to eye health hazards. Employers will provide eyewear which incorporates the employee’s spectacle prescription if needed. There are frame and lens requirements designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which will ensure that the safety glasses provided by your employer meet the standards for adequate protection.

If you are unsure what to wear for a specific activity, be sure to seek guidance from your optometrist. We enjoy educating our patients and we can demonstrate proper protection in our offices. Last but not least, please don’t hesitate to call your optometrist if you experience an eye injury. Although we prefer to help you avoid the injury altogether, we will certainly guide you through the healing process as quickly as possible.

~ Lisa Heuer, O.D.
California Optometric Association

Workplace eye protection – What advice can an eye doc give?

Wear your safety glasses

If you are a carpenter, chemist, dentist, gardener, machinist, manicurist, painter, or plumber just to name a few occupations, these four little words should be ingrained in your mind and practiced 100 percent of the time. Protective eyewear does not consist of your standard frame or ordinary lens material that you may wear on a daily basis for vision correction or as a fashion accessory.

The standards for “protective eyewear” is set forth by one of the branches of the federal agency called Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mandates to wear protective eyewear is to safeguard you, the workforce, from unnecessary injury and harm. Such protective eyewear for the workplace is very specific and is typically made of a chemical and impact resistant material such as Trivex®. The lens may incorporate your prescription or it may simply have no prescription at all. The frame is manufactured with materials that is flexibly strong and is has a Z87 labeling. Additionally, the frame may have side shields for added protection if needed.


Photo courtesy of John Carleton on Flickr

The story of Mr. Plumber

A patient of mine named Mr. Plumber (real patient, fictitious name). He is a hard working plumber in our town. Mr. Plumber frequents our office way too often. You see, Mr. Plumber refuses to wear “safety goggles” because he feels uncomfortable and restricted with them on. In only ten years, he has suffered 25 pieces of metal lodged into both corneas. It wasn’t until one of the metal pieces pierced the center of his right eye, causing loss of vision, that he finally decided to comply with our ongoing recommendation of those four little, but impactful words… wear you safety glasses!

~Judy Tong, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association