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.

Helpful Tips On Photochromic Eyewear

AOSafety SmartLens Shown

AOSafety SmartLens Photochromic Safety Glasses Shown

The majority of customers interested in purchasing Photochromic Eyewear always have the same valid question. How dark can I expect my Photochromic/Transition lenses to get? There is no quick answer to this question. It will depend on the type of glasses you have, and the environmental conditions in which they are used.

How it Works:
Basically photochromic compounds are built into the lens. The sun’s UV rays trigger the compound to darken. When you get away from sunlight, they reverse back to a clear state through a thermal process. This process seems simple enough until you add in environmental conditions, which significantly impact the performance of photochromic eyewear.

When Lenses WILL get their darkest:
  • Cold Weather: Photochromic lenses will get darker in cold weather conditions, which makes them more suitable for snow skiers than beachgoers. (Once inside, away from the triggering UV light, the cold lenses take longer to regain their clear color than warm lenses.)

When Lenses will NOT get their darkest:
  • Driving a car: Most windshields have UV protection built in, which significantly reduces the amount of UV light reaching your lenses. This prevents the photochromic compound from working to its fullest, so lenses will darken considerably less in a car.
  • Hot Weather: The higher the temperature, the less dark photochromic lenses will be. This thermal effect is called “temperature dependency” and prevents these devices from achieving true sunglass darkness in very hot weather.
I want the darkest possible photochromic lenses, what should I look for?
  • Lenses that have a clear neutral state will never get as dark as those that start out darker. If you are seeking darker lenses, try going from a “dark to darker” state. Look for glasses with lenses that are medium or light gray in their neutral state; their transition in the sun will be closer to a sunglass feel than lenses that start as clear.
  • If you’ll be using your eyewear in extremely hot and bright conditions, such as the desert or a tropical beach, photochromic lenses will probably not perform to your satisfaction. I would recommend saving some money and purchase eyewear with traditional dark lens tints.