With summer just around the corner, it’s prime time to start thinking about protecting your and your family’s eyes. Ultraviolet rays are categorized as UVA, UVB, and UVC. The naked eye cannot see them, and exposure continues even when it is cloudy. Rays also are reflected from the ground, water, snow and other bright surfaces.
UVA rays are always present, both inside and outside, so your lenses, must offer protection. These particular rays are associated with eyestrain and fatigue, especially for those people who often work on a computer.
People are most familiar with UVB rays because they are the most damaging to the skin. However, they are equally harmful to the eyes. Some studies have shown them to be causative factors in the development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and skin cancer around the eyelids. While they are damaging for people of all ages, they are particularly dangerous for children. Parents should make sure their children wear sunglasses for outdoor activities or sports to help prevent vision problems later in life.
UVC rays cause the most damage to the body and the environment, but they are generally absorbed by the upper atmosphere and do not reach the earth’s surface. In areas where ozone depletion is an issue, UVC rays are becoming more of a concern.
Blue light from electronic devices such as computers and phones may be just as damaging as UV rays outside. It’s also found in overhead lighting and outdoors. Blue filtering screens or devices in lenses can help those with early stage cataracts and macular degeneration. Consider these options if you have a family history.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Take precautions indoors and outdoors and mind UV warnings in the news. Make sure to wear hats and sunscreen in addition to sunglasses. Everyday lenses in both clear and tinted shades should be made of UV-blocking materials or have a UV-blocking coating. UV stickers on glasses or sunglasses don’t necessarily mean that they are fully protective. According to regulations, sunglasses must block at least 70 percent of UVB rays and 60 percent of UVA rays, but it’s recommended that you look for ones offering at least 98 percent protection. Wear glasses that offer more coverage around your eyes and face.
- Reduce glare
- Filter out 99 to 100 percent of UV rays
- Protect eyes with lenses that pop out, not in
- Be comfortable to wear
- Not distort colors
Polarized lenses with anti-glare coatings and iridium lenses are the ultimate enhancements available to filter UVA and UVB rays. Flash mirror coatings on sunglasses also reduce glare and add a little more style.
For people who wear contact lenses, be aware that they can be made with UV protection, and this will decrease the amount of rays that enter the cornea. However, it is still important to wear sunglasses to protect the areas not covered by the contacts.
Consult with your eye doctor on purchasing any type of prescription lenses or eyewear. Your optometrist can determine the best type of UV protection for you and your family— whether for glasses, sunglasses or contacts— and can tailor your UV protection that suits your lifestyle.
Eyewear Gallery has a number of types of lens and frames for fashion, casual, and sport to protect your eyes from these sight threatening sources of damage. Contact the office for more information: (901) 763-2020.
Dr. Warren Johnson is a medical optometrist at Eyewear Gallery. For more information about Eyewear Gallery, please call (901) 763-2020 or visit http://www.EyewearGallery.com