Cataracts and ARMD are the most prevalent effects and have serious societal consequences. These are degenerative conditions that are manifested later in life. More than 20 percent of the population older than 65 is affected with ARMD and ARMD accounts for about half of all registered blindness in the developed world. Just like a quality sunscreen helps protect your skin, a quality pair of sunglasses will help protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them. All sunglasses are not created equal, and those that are not UV-absorptive may actually do more harm than good. Proper protective sunwear must incorporate two very important properties: the ability to reduce the intensity of sunlight and the absorption of harmful UV. Harmful UV is considered to be between 290 and 500 nanometers (nm)–numbers you should know when shopping for sunglasses. Limiting the amount of sunlight entering the eye has no negative effect and can possibly extend the useful life of these irreplaceable and precious organs.
Steven J. Nuttall is a licensed dispensing optician with more than 30 years of optical experience. He is the owner and operator of Lugene Opticians, has owned three successful optical companies in his career and has served on the board overseeing the core curriculum for the School of Opticianry at Perimeter College. For more information, call Lugene Opticians at (404) 261-4160.
Did you know?
The Daily UV Index ratings for Atlanta show that, in 2008, Atlantans experienced 166 days of exposure to UV that rated high, very high or extreme.
—National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
Tips for Choosing Quality Sunglasses
- UVA & UVB absorption is a must. Look for products labeled 100-percent UV Protection—these products protect your eyes to 400nm, the minimum set forth by researchers.
- Separate from UV light, visible light for humans begins at around 380nm and goes to 750nm. The blue light, or HEV, area of the color spectrum is 380-500nm. Exposure to HEV/blue light, over time, has been linked to macular degeneration. You need eye protection to at least 400nm, but if you want to be more safe, get sunglasses that protect to 450nm—any higher, and you won’t be able to see the color blue, which will impair your driving. To obtain sunglasses that protect to 450nm, consult with your eyecare professional.
- Polarized sunwear blocks the reflected light from flat surfaces such as water, pavement, sand, etc. by having a vertically oriented polarizing filter in the lenses, much like Venetian blinds. Though not recommended for all activities, their ability to absorb UV and reduce glare like no other sunwear makes them a superb choice.
- There is new technology that combines polarization with UV and HEV light absorption to an attenuation of approximately 450nm, affording protection and function with little loss of color discrimination.