As Americans are planning spring and summer vacations, many may be contemplating buying a new pair of stylish sunglasses. The American Optometric Association (AOA) reminds consumers to also be sure their favorite sunglasses provide quality protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
According to the AOA’s 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, 47 percent of consumers do not check the UV protection level before purchasing sunglasses. Overexposure to UV rays can cause eye and vision problems-and that’s no way to remember a fun day of outdoor adventures.
Your checklist for sunglasses
To be sure your sunglasses will adequately protect your eyes, follow these tips from the AOA, which can also be found in the AOA’s Sunglasses Shopping Guide.
- Be sure your sunglasses block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. While some contact lenses also offer UV protection, these should be worn with sunglasses to maximize protection.
- Your sunglasses should screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
- The frame of your sunglasses needs to fit close to your eyes and contour to the shape of your face. This prevents exposure to UV rays from all sides, even from behind.
- Pick lenses that are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection.Lenses should also have a uniform tint, not darker in one area from another. The AOA suggests a gray tint, which is particularly helpful when driving as it offers the best color recognition.
Short- and long-term effects of UV exposure
If the eyes are unprotected and exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, even just a few hours, individuals may experience an effect called photokeratitis, known as a “sunburn of the eye.”
“Photokeratitis may be painful and include symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing,” said Karl Citek, O.D., Ph.D., chair of the AOA Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. “Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.”
Long-term overexposure to UV radiation over the course of one’s life can cause more serious problems, such as damage to the eye, which can result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the white of the eye onto the cornea, or clear window at the front of the eye) and cancer of the eyelids, skin around the eye and even the eye itself.
Don’t forget about kids’ eyes
Parents need to be sure their children have appropriate eye protection. Unlike the lens found in an adult eye, which is more mature, a child’s lens cannot filter out UV rays as easily, possibly causing damage to the retina.
“UV protection is important for people of all ages, but children’s eyes are more vulnerable since they are more transparent than an adult’s eyes,” said Dr. Citek. “When children go to play outside, they are excited and may not remember to put on sunglasses. Parents can help get their kids in the habit of wearing their sunglasses, which will help instill good eye care practices for life.”
To be sure your sunglasses will properly protect your eyes from UV radiation, your best resource is your optometrist, who will also help ensure your eyes are heathy through yearly, comprehensive eye exams. To find an eye doctor near you, visit aoa.org.
Today’s gadgets and devices are placing demands on your eyes that they are not equipped to handle naturally. Our society seeks efficiency and convenience, yet the very devices that bring those benefits have a downside, especially eye fatigue. By reducing the amount of blue light that enters the eye, you will increase your comfort level and reduce eye fatigue, headaches, blurred vision and other related chronic discomfort.
Hoya Recharge anti-reflective treatment reduces blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, TVs and even energy efficient light bulbs by 10 percent compared to conventional anti-reflective treated lenses. (some blue light is important and therefore it is not necessary or desirable to block it all)
Here is what you need to know:
- School text books are rapidly moving to tablets
- 72.5% of adults are unaware of the potential dangers of blue light to the eyes
- 61% of adults experience eye strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices
- 2 in 5 Millennials spends at least 9 hours per day on digital devices.
Benefits of Recharge Treatment
- Blocks up to 10% of harmful blue light waves emitted by electronic devices.
- Helps alleviate;e eyestrain, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision
- Can help improve sleep patterns
- Eliminates reflections, repels dirt and dust, and provides superior scratch resistance.
Honolulu eye doctors Dr. Daniel Yamamoto and Dr. Tracie Inouchi would like to urge consumers to take a closer look when buying sunglasses this year.
While many will look for fashionable eyeglasses and sunglasses, the most critical factor to keep in mind is making sure sunglasses provide adequate protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation, which comes from the sun, and is what can cause harm to skin and eyes.
According to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) 2014 American Eye-Q® survey, 41 percent of consumers do not check the UV protection level before purchasing sunglasses and only 30 percent of Americans said UV protection is the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses, ahead of glare reduction/comfortable vision (27 percent), style (15 percent), price (14 percent) and fit (9 percent).
“The harmful effects of long-term exposure to UV are a real concern because it can cause damage to the eye, possibly resulting in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, or an abnormal growth called Pterygium, also called “surfer’s eye,” said Dr. Inouchi.
Short-term exposure to UV rays from a day at the beach, for example, can be serious and could lead to a condition known as photokeratitis, also known as “sunburn of the eye.” Symptoms of photokeratitis include red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. These side effects are usually temporary and rarely cause permanent damage to the eyes, but to be sure overexposure is the only problem, patients should consult with their eye doctor if they have these symptoms.
Children Need Protection
In addition, the average child takes in approximately three times the annual UV exposure of the average adult and up to 80 percent of their lifetime exposure occurs before age 20. Unlike the lens found in an adult eye, which is more mature, a child’s lens cannot filter out UV rays as easily, causing damage to the retina.
“Exposure to UV rays can cause problems for people of all ages, but it is critical for children to protect their eyes since they are more transparent than an adult’s. By learning to protect their eyes early, they can possibly avoid UV damage,” said Dr. Inouchi.
What to Look for in Lenses and Frames
For optimal eye sun-safety, Dr. Yamamoto and Dr. Inouchi recommend wearing sunglasses or contact lenses that offer appropriate UV protection, applying UV-blocking sunscreen and wearing a hat to keep direct sunlight off of the face and eyes. Dr. Inouchi also recommends:
- Lenses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Lenses that have a uniform tint, not darker in one area from another. Gradient lenses should lighten gradually with the bottom being lightest.
- Lenses that are free of distortion and imperfection.
- A frame that fits close to the eyes and contours to the shape of the face, in order to prevent exposure to UV radiation from all sides, even behind.
- Prescription glasses with tints and full UV protection. While some contact lenses also offer UV protection, these should be worn with sunglasses to maximize protection.
- Staying out of the sun during the peak UV exposure risk hours for the eyes, from 8 to 10 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.
There are also a number of lens and frame options that can enhance vision for particular activities, such as:
- Polarized lenses, which reduce reflected glare from sunlight that bounces off snow or water and add comfort and enhance vision when cross-country skiing, fishing or driving.
- “Blue-blocking” lenses help make distant objects easier to see, especially in snow or haze, which is great for skiers, boaters and hunters.
- Polycarbonate lenses to provide impact protection, an important option for potentially hazardous work, sports and other activities.
- Photochromic (transition) lenses that offer convenience since the lens darkens or lightens depending on the light exposure.
The best way to monitor eye health, maintain good vision, and keep up to date on the latest in UV protection is by scheduling yearly comprehensive eye exams.
Here are 5 tips for a life time of healthy vision. Honolulu eye doctors, Daniel Yamamoto, O.D. and Tracie Inouchi, O.D. suggest:
- Schedule Yearly Comprehensive Exams. Seeing a doctor of optometry regularly will help keep you on the path to healthy eyes.
- Protect against UV rays. No matter the season its important to wear sunglasses.
- Give your eyes a break from digital device use. Practice the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.
- Eat your greens. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables – particularly the leafy green variety.
- Practice safe wear and care of your contact lenses. Keep them clean.
Did You Know?
- 80 percent learning happens through your child’s their eyes.
- Until the teenage years, a child’s crystalline lens does NOT prevent UV light from damaging the retina.
- School vision screenings may not detect all vision problems in kids.
- 1 child out of 4 does not see well in school.
- 600,000 eye injuries related to sports and recreation occur each year. Are your child’s eyes protected?