How the Sun Effects Our Eyes: An Interview with an Optometrist

Revo Transom Titanium Sunglasses with Polished Brown Frame and Polarized Bronze Lens

Revo Transom Titanium Sunglasses with Polished Brown Frame and Polarized Bronze Lens

Last week, National Public Radio’s WGVU Morning Show host, Shelly Irwin, interviewed nationally renown optometrist Dr. Gary Anderson about the effects of the sun on our eyes.

Sorry to spoil the punch line, but Dr. Anderson’s bottom line is this: Wear high-quality, polarized sunglasses with 99% – 100% UVA and UVB protection, year-round, even when it’s cloudy, especially if you’re under 18 years old.

Why?
The accumulated effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays damage our eyes in exactly the same way they damage our skin. And, according to Dr. Anderson, all the layers of the eye can and will be effected by this accumulated exposure to UV:

  • The first layer to receive the harmful effects of sunlight is, logically, the top layer, called the cornea. When too many hours of sunlight cause our eyes feel dry and itchy, this is inflammation of the cornea (keratitis). This irritation can make our eyes ache if we’ve been outside all day without proper or adequate eye protection.
  • The next surface of the eye damaged by UV light is the lens. The more UV exposure the lens receives, the earlier it will form cataracts. Cataracts are the grey-blue clouding that obstructs the passage of light to the retina. Only surgical removal of this clouding can restore a patient’s vision. Fortunately, today’s modern cataract surgery implants interocular lenses with built-in UV protection.
  • Even the deepest layer of the eye, the macula, can be injured by UV rays. This is a yellow spot near the center of the retina at the back of the eye. Macular degeneration — the breakdown of this tissue — is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in adults over the age of 50 and is the direct result of accumulated, over-exposure to sunlight over the course of a lifetime.

Who Needs Extra Eye Protection?
Everyone should wear high quality sunglasses with 99% – 100% UVA and UVB protection. However, in our first 18 years, 50% of our lifetime exposure to sunlight takes place. Therefore, Dr. Anderson says babies should start wearing quality sunglasses no later than six months old — because their eye tissue is even more sensitive to the effects of UV light than adults’ — and children and teens should wear quality sunglasses consistently throughout childhood. (Note: Dr. Anderson also stresses of importance of explaining to children that they should never look directly at the sun, because doing so focuses the UV light directly on the back of the eye like a magnifying glass, which could actually burn a hole through the retina. So be sure to tell your kids: never, never stare into the sun, even during an eclipse.)

People taking certain medications may also experience increased UV eye sensitivity. Some common prescriptions which cause this effect include:

  • tetracyclines (a group of broad-spectrum antibiotics)
  • sulfa drugs
  • diuretics
  • tranquilizers
  • birth control pills

What’s the Best Protection?
Again, Dr. Anderson recommends good sunglasses that absorb 99% – 100% of ultraviolet A and B rays, as well as 75% – 90 % of visible light. Visible light is not UV, but simply the brightness — the glare — which polarization takes care of.

Dr. Anderson goes on to explain: “You might find a stylish pair of sunglasses at the Marathon station for $3 that keeps out the brightness, but they won’t protect you from the UV rays. Those sunglasses will actually damage your eyes more than wearing no sunglasses at all, because when you put them on, your pupils get bigger — because they’re receiving less light — but that simply lets in more UV which isn’t being blocked at all. So yes, you’re going to pay more for a good pair of sunglasses. The $3 ones won’t cut it.”

Additional sun protection for your eyes include:

  • A hat with a brim, like a baseball cap or a wide brim hat, cuts down on direct light coming from above
  • Ultraviolet-blocking soft contact lenses
  • Clear prescription eyeglasses that have an added UV-protection layer

Dr. Anderson’s Final Thoughts – “Don’t forget … “

 

  • On the water, sand, and snow, your UV exposure is doubled because of the reflected rays coming into your eyes from both above and below
  • The effects from the sun are worse in southern states and the closer you are to the equator
  • UV effects are worse at high altitudes where there’s less atmosphere to diffract and absorb it
  • Wear quality sunglasses year-round. Sometimes we think when it’s cloudy we don’t have to worry about it, but UV goes right through clouds

Oakley M Frames Pass More than Lab Tests — They Pass Pavement Tests

 

Oakley M-Frame Saves Eye

Erik's injuries while serious could have been worse. Oakley M-Frames saved his right eye. (Image from Oakley.com)

Safety Glasses USA has always been a huge fan of Oakley eyewear, and we do our best to spread the word about the amazing quality and protection offered by Oakley. However, unlike cyclist Eric Koff, we stop sort of sacrificing our own bodies to make the point of just how fantastic Oakley products really are. So Erik, we owe you our most sincere thanks and gratitude for putting your personal pair of Oakley M Frames to the ultimate, real-world test, and sacrificing your pretty face in the process.

Here’s what poor Erik endured for the educational benefit of the rest of us a few weeks ago on his bike ride through Southern California: “We were going about twenty to twenty-five miles an hour when multiple spokes broke on my front wheel, locking the wheel,” he says. “When that happened I went head-first over the handlebars, literally driving the right side of my face into the ground.” Read the full story here.

After being diagnosed with a concussion, a broken nose, sinus fractures, a shattered cheekbone, and major damage to the orbital bone of his right eye, what Eric didn’t suffer was a fractured skull or severe corneal or retinal lacerations — in fact, he sustained no eye damage at all. “I am truly thankful for two pieces of equipment: my helmet and my Oakley M Frames,” Eric says. “Lesser lenses could have broken, possibly injuring my eye. But these lenses took the full force of the pavement and stayed intact, protecting my eye. Prior to my accident I was well aware that Oakley had impact protection, but I had no idea that they would have held up to a 25 mph impact.”

We salute you Eric, and wish you fast healing for the part you played in proving that the time and engineering Oakley invests in the impact protection of every pair of lenses is justified and more than worthwhile. Oakley’s commitment to high-mass, high-speed impact testing ensures their lenses hold up exactly as designed in precisely the kind of real-world scenario Eric Koff experienced.

Oakley M Frame Sunglasses: The Choice of Pros

Oakley M-Frame Lens Scratches From Pavement

Oakley M-Frame lenses scratched from impact with pavement. (Image from Oakley.com)

While some may continue to believe that you’re really only paying for the name, the rest of us let the facts speak for themselves: Oakley is unmatched within the industry for their research, technology, and quality. While only the Industrial M-Frame and SI M-Frame boast the Z87.1 stamp for safety compliance, all Oakley models are tested to exceed the most stringent high velocity impact tests of the American National Standards Institute. In addition, all Oakley lenses block 100% of harmful UVA,UVB, and UVC rays. Professional athletes and sports enthusiasts of all stripes know that these design details — including Oakley’s precision aligned, pure Plutonite® lenses and their perfectly balanced 3-point frames — provide the best optical clarity and protection money can buy.

And in the highly competitive world of athletics, where visual distortion can dramatically impact performance, the pros don’t take chances. Oakley M Frames deliver their unsurpassed clarity using High Definition Optics (HDO) and precision lens geometry in all five interchangeable shapes. The hinged frame offers the comfort of their perfect three-point fit, and their selection of accessories are  vital in the competitive arena.

If your favorite sport is of the let’s-get-down-and-dirty variety that requires streak-free vision, certain Oakley lenses offer special Hydrophobic™ and oleophobic coatings designed to repel dust, mud, water, oils, fingerprints, and lotions. Many lenses are also polarized for the ultimate comfort and protection in bright sunlight.

Customized Oakleys: Build Your Perfect Pair!

Don’t see the combination of features you need in the style you’re looking for? Tell us! We’ll get them for you! We can help you build a pair of custom Oakley sunglasses from a wide variety of styles, with the features you want, in your favorite colors, and even engrave your lenses for the perfect personalized touch. Our friendly, expert staff is here to help Monday-Friday, 8AM-7PM EST at 800-870-6189.

So lastly, again, from all of us here at Safety Glasses USA, happy healing Eric Koff! Hope to see you back out on your bike wearing a new pair of Oakley M Frames real soon!

Safety from the Heart This February

Safety Glasses Make a Worker Happy

Protect your loved ones and give them the gift of safety this Valentine's Day.

February is a month that is truly from the heart – from Valentine’s Day smack in the middle of the month to American Heart Month casting a red glow throughout February, it’s a month that is all about giving from the heart –whether it’s a material gift or through care and thought. Safety Glasses and safety equipment might not shine as bright as diamonds, but when your loved ones are operating dangerous equipment or are working in precarious situations, you’re going to rely on safety equipment to keep the cherished people in your life safe.

A Passion For Safety
The calendar doesn’t have to specify a holiday for you to give the gift of safety – it’s a gift that is welcome all year round and shows how much you care about the special people in your life. If you’re just swinging by our website, don’t feel overwhelmed – first think about what type of conditions they’re working in. For example, does he or she need Splash Goggles, or perhaps Polarized Safety Glasses? Then, think about Safety Glasses Lens Tints in accordance with the lighting conditions he or she works in.

Think safety bundles – safety glasses, face shields, gloves, and hard hats. Giving your loved one the complete safety package ups the likelihood that he or she will keep safety on the brain, and be armed with the safety equipment to make it a reality.

Promote Safety In February
As you’re embracing the love this February, use heartfelt action to promote the cause of safety:

  • Tell your loved ones how vital their safety is to you. We live busy lives, and it’s easy to forget to tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us. Take a few minutes this February, and all year, to remind them.
  • Promote safety – together. Don’t things always seem to stick better when you do them together? If you want your husband to wear safety glasses when working in the yard, buy yourself a pair and wear them too!
  • Start safety early. We learn habits early, and the habit of safety is a wonderful one to teach. Children’s Safety Glasses are made for smaller faces, and get your kids in the habit of promoting safety from youth to adult.

Safety comes from the heart this February, and choosing safety equipment for your loved ones is not only a wonderful surprise, but one that shows how much they mean to you. We’re always here to help, so please contact us if you need a helping hand selecting the right safety equipment for the people who hold the keys to your heart!