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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.

Yes, Your Eyes Can Get Sunburned: The Dangers of Photokeratitis

Gosh, is it getting hot out there! The temperatures are skyrocketing, the sun is at its brightest, and for many of us, that means spending time in the pool, enjoying the crashing waves of the ocean, relaxing in the sun, or even pursuing some outdoor adventures. We all know how dangerous the sun can be, and we know that sun protection is an absolute must. So we lather on our SPF 50 and go about our day outside. That’s all we really need to do, right?

Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that needs to be shielded from the sun. Your eyes can indeed get sunburned, too. Known as “snow blindness”, “welder’s eye”, or “flash burns”, Photokeratitis is a very real condition that affects your eye’s corneas – in essence, your corneas become “sunburned.” Our team here at Safety Glasses USA has first-hand experienced the damaging effects of photokeratitis, from seeing how the sun can damage the whites of the eyes on a 10 year child to healthy and active thirty-somethings who forget to wear Polarized Sunglasses.

Causes of Photokeratitis

We typically don’t stare directly at the sun (ouch!), so photokeratitis usually occurs when UV rays bounce off a reflective surface and into our eyes. Water, such as the pool or ocean you’re swimming in on a sunny day, unfortunately reflects UV rays exceptionally well, dramatically increasing the risk of your corneas being scorched in the sunlight. Same goes for the bright white of snow, and even sand and concrete! Ever wonder why you’re not supposed to stare directly at a solar eclipse? Photokeratitis is the reason.

Symptoms of Photokeratitis

It’s pretty easy to spot photokeratitis – if your eyes are red or painful, you most likely are experiencing the effects of this condition. Most people experience mild photokeratitis, where your eyes will be red and in light pain for about one to two days. Severe cases include heavy pain in the eyes and lid spasms, and can actually last as long as six days, often requiring the sufferer to wear an eye patch during this time.

Treatment of Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis doesn’t occur immediately – it can be up to six hours after your corneas get “sunburned” until the symptoms really start to set in. Most doctors recommend over the counter pain medications and eye drops to alleviate the pain in your eyes. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, visit your eye doctor immediately, and s/he may subscribe prescription eye ointment and eye patches. Photokeratitis is no miniscule matter – those suffering from a severe case of it are essentially blind while they are recovering from it.

Photokeratitis Prevention

Applying sunscreen to our eyes isn’t exactly a good option, but committing to wearing Polarized Sunglasses that repel harmful UV rays is. Tinted sunglasses aren’t enough – they still allow the pupil to expand and let in UV rays. We suggest keeping a pair of Polarized Sunglasses in your car so that you always have a pair on hand, whether you’re relaxing on a friend’s pool deck or tackling some mountain climbing for the day.

Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 2

Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and SolutionsA great deal of misconceptions exists about night driving, and “night driving eyewear” is actually a highly sought-after product. But there are some significant considerations when searching for them, and there really is no catch-all sort of solution. Before trying night vision eyewear for driving, be sure to employ the tips provided in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1 as well as additional tips provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Lens Color and Night Vision

There are two main reasons people generally look for night driving glasses. First, to enhance contrast and depth perception in dim light. Second, to reduce glare from oncoming headlights. Let’s look at each of these reasons in turn and try to determine if lens color can provide any solutions to nighttime driving vision problems.

Enhancing Contrast and Depth Perception

This goal can only be achieved during the 2+ hour duration before and during dusk or at other times that are dim without being dark. A yellow/amber lens can brighten surroundings using the small amount of light available. But the key is that these lenses require the presence of some light as benefits are lost when darkness fully descends. Once it is fully dark, not much can help improve visibility.

But even with the possibility of a yellow/amber lens improving visibility in some conditions, the use of tint of any sort once dusk hits is controversial. In fact, eye experts at Laramy-K Optical strongly discourage the use of yellow lenses for night driving and even driving at dusk because “ANY tint further reduces the amount of light transmitted to the eye.” They quote Dr. Merrill J. Allen from the Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety who says that yellow lenses can “actually impair visual performances and retard glare recovery.”

Reducing Glare from Oncoming Headlights

This goal is achieved using almost anything other than clear. However, this need usually applies in the dark when headlights appear even brighter by contrast.  This type of glare is different than that generated by the sun.  Thus, a polarized lens, which is by far the best for reducing sun glare, will not have the same benefit against headlights.  To reduce headlight glare, a dark mirror lens would likely be most effective.  Unfortunately, this type of lens is neither practical nor advisable in the dark. Arguably, the best alternative then is an indoor/outdoor lens that has a light mirror coating over a clear lens. However, even this type of lens only allows 50-60% light transmission, so it will darken not just the view of the lights but your total surroundings as well. Obviously, this presents a danger with the already dark conditions of nighttime.

So what’s the best choice?

Drivers must understand what they are trying to achieve and how important that goal is to them. They must also realize the trade-off for trying to reduce headlight glare. Experts at Safety Glasses USA advise customers to “please choose wisely,” and to cease using any lens if it impairs vision. Customers must realize that there is no perfect or even ideal type of night driving glasses because there are too many variables such as one’s sensitivity to light, one’s natural ability to see in the dark, the varying environmental light conditions and driver objective.

Conclusion

The bottom line remains that having perfect vision for driving at dawn, dusk or nighttime simply isn’t possible. The first approach should be to remove any obstacles to clear vision, such as those suggested in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1. Should you choose to experiment with night driving glasses or even with various lens tints, know clearly that eye experts warn against this as a safe option.