Indoor UV Protection

UV RaysDoes being indoors mean you’re protected against harmful UV rays from the sun? Yes and no. Consider the following facts about UVA and UVB rays generated by the sun.

  • UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and are strongest in the summer.
  • UVA rays contribute to premature aging and wrinkles and are constant throughout the year
  • UVA rays account for 95% of UV radiation and are 30-50 times more prevalent than UVB rays.
  • UVB rays cannot pass through glass, while up to 50% of UVA rays can pass through glass.

Does this mean that protection from the sun by using sunscreen, sunglasses and protective closing is necessary? Again, the answer is yes and no.

The amount of UVA rays that pass through windows depends upon the type of glass as well as on the type of coating on the glass. For example, car windows have been proven to let in more than 60% of UVA rays from the sun. For buildings, recent advancements in window glass have provided a glass that reduces UV transmissions to 20%. Some types of glass can even protect against up to 99% of all UV light but are not common in residential or commercial structures.

Because the type of glass varies from one building and vehicle to another, protection from UVA rays while indoors varies tremendously for one individual to the next. The American Academy of Dermatology says that the amount of time a person spends in the car and/or working near windows can significantly impact the amount of UVA rays he/she receives.

While most Americans spend 80% of their days behind glass, individuals most susceptible to problems caused by UVA rays that make their way through glass include anyone working near windows as well as anyone driving or riding in a car for long periods of time. The more time spent in either situation, the more important to take protective measures.

For those with increased indoor exposure to UVA rays, expert recommendations include the following:

  1. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  2. Consider UV eye protection. Many options exist for every unique situation such as the 3M SmartLens Safety Glasses with Photochromic Lenses for those who need safety glasses.
  3. Use window shades or blinds during times when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  4. Arrange workspace so as not to always be working close to windows.
  5. When driving or riding in a car, wear protective clothing (long-sleeve shirt & pants) and wrap-around sunglasses, like the Bobster Defender Sungalsses, that protect against UVA and UVB rays.
  6. Add tinting to car windows, but make sure the auto facility can meet the federal mandate for tinting.

Many people believe that the type of lighting can also contribute to indoor UV exposure, but research shows lighting sources are not a significant factor in indoor UV exposure. In fact, anti-aging skin care based on independent research indicates that typical exposure to UV light from commonly used types of fluorescent lamps is relatively small” and “most UV light generated by common halogen lamps is blocked.” However, those same studies to recommend considering extra protection, such as those listed above, for those spending a lot of time under fluorescent or halogen lighting. Research Information provided by The National Electrical Manufacturers Association supports the findings of this independent research.

Bottom line: Even if you’re indoors most of the time, spending a lot of time in the sun coming through windows puts you at risk for UVA-related skin cancer as well as increased wrinkles and premature aging. If this is you, take measures to protect your eyes and skin just as if you were outside in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

Eye Injury by Age Group

Eye InjuryProjectile objects and flying debris represent about 18% of all reported eye injuries, with blunt object injuries making up just over 13% of injuries. In third place comes injury caused by fingers, fists and other body parts (10%). And in fourth place at about 9% is injury from sharp objects such as a fishhook or glass shard.

In case you weren’t counting, we’ve just accounted for 50% of all reported injuries. The remaining 50% comes from a variety of causes including sports equipment, automobile airbags, paintballs, bb guns, pellet guns, furniture, household chemicals, firearms, and fireworks.

As reported in Who Is At Risk for Greatest Eye Injury? almost half of the 2.5 million eye injuries reported annually occur in individuals ages 18-45. Many of the same type of injuries, primarily the ones listed above, occur as much in the over-45 age group as in the 18-45 age group. But, less injuries occur overall in the older group probably due to increased caution and decreased activity and risk that usually accompanies aging.

The second largest age group (25%) receiving the most eye injuries are children. Even more specifically, older teens and young adults in their late twenties present the highest numbers of eye injuries. Of the total number of injuries, 73% of them are received by males.

While older teens and young adults represent the highest number, no one remains exempt from receiving an eye injury. The article Children Need Eye Protection Too details the hazards facing young children with regard to eye injury as well as gives measures for preventing injury in the first place.

So that leaves one group yet to cover with regard to risk for eye injury… the elderly. In this age group, falls cause the most eye injuries. More specifically, loss of balance resulting in falls.

Preventing injuries caused from falls starts with a visit to the doctor to address any health issues. Then, make sure an individual’s home provides sturdy support structures for moving about and that paths for everyday activities are safe and clear.

While we know that 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented using protective eyewear and that every home should have at least one pair of safety glasses, we need to realize that eye injury prevention also comes through making the environment itself safer as well.

This means realizing that most eye injuries take place at home and then doing what we can to prevent eye injuries in the home. This also means making sure the age of individuals in a home is taken into consideration and appropriate measures follow based on that information, especially when young children or the elderly are involved.

Driving In The Fog Made Easier

Driving this time of year can be tricky. If you don’t listen to the weather report before you head out to start your day, you can be caught totally off guard when you hit thick patches of fog, it can make you dread the morning drive. If you have young drivers in your home it is even worse because you worry about their safety while driving in the fog.

Among the tips to driving in foggy conditions:

  • Use LOW beams lights. High beams will reflect off the fog, creating a “white wall” effect.
  • Reduce your speed.
  • Travel with the window partially open. Listen for traffic.
  • Use the paint line of the right edge of the road to guide you – never use the center line.

But there are times when the fog is so thick you can barely see the white line on the right side of the road edge.

Here is a hint that can give you the “edge” you need: Glasses with an amber or yellow lens will enhance contrast, making it easier to distinguish where the paint line runs.

I wear prescription glasses, so I keep a pair of Guardian Over-the-glass with yellow lens within an arm’s reach in my car. (Bolle makes the Override in a yellow lens that would also work).

For the young driver in your household, select glasses that not only keep them safer, but also look good so that they will use them. To mention just a few: In a yellow lens, popular choices are the Wiley-X Saber and the Jackson Hellraiser. In an amber lens, the Smith & Wesson Elite, with its “retro style” is a great choice. Another great choice is the Edge Dukura, a light-weight, sleek wrap-around available in both yellow and amber lens.

Try one of these very affordable glasses, you will find it makes driving in the fog easier and safer.