We know much more than generations past about the dangers of the sun’s ultraviolet light and it’s link to skin cancer and certain eye diseases. However, there’s still confusion about what to look for in sunglass protection. This article will hopefully bring everything in ‘focus’.
Light travels in wavelengths in a similar fashion to waves on a lake. Some of these wavelengths are visible (like the colors of the rainbow) and others are not visible to humans. Ultraviolet light is not visible to the human eye, but has effects on the human body. For many years, experts believe that exposure to ultraviolet light may contribute to cataracts (cloudy lenses), retinal diseases, and dryness of the eye. In addition, ultraviolet light exposure is linked to an increased risk of skin cancers.
How to protect the eyes from UV exposure
Contrary to what may seem correct, it’s not the tinting of the lenses that protect you from UV light. Tinting is designed to make the sunlight more comfortable and easier to see when in bright sun, but by itself, the tinting doesn’t offer protection. A clear coating on lenses is used to block UV light. Another option is to use a material for the lenses that automatically blocks out UV such as polycarbonate. Always study the label when looking for sunglasses to see if they block out 100% of UV rays. Your clear prescription eyewear may already block out all the UV, but sunglasses will make the view more comfortable. For more info on UV protection visit the American Optometric Association website.
Which color tints are best?
Honestly, it’s a personal decision. Grey tints desaturate all colors of the spectrum equally, so there is no distortion of color. Many prefer grey lenses for boating and general everyday use. Brown tints block out certain rays of light at the yellow end of the scale and enhance contrast. Quite often, brown lenses are favored by golfers. But just try them on and choose which one you like best. And if you can, ask to try them on outdoors.
Polarized lenses. Are they worth the money?
Sunlight is made up of all wavelengths and they scatter randomly producing an overall lighting effect. However, when light reflects off of a surface, like a window, the water, or wet pavement, the light rays synchronize and produce “glare”. Polarized lenses are designed to block out synchronized light rays and therefore, no glare gets to the eye. Polarized lenses allow for great comfort with driving, skiiing, and boating. In fact, polarized lenses allow boaters to see much further into the water making them nearly a neccessity for those who love to fish.