When NOT to Wear Tinted Safety Glasses

tinted-safety-glassesWhile many good reasons exist for wearing tinted safety glasses at work — when working for long periods in bright sunshine and during high-intensity light tasks such as welding, for example — there are some situations where NOT wearing tinted lenses is safer.

Night Driving. Unfortunately, no perfectly safe option exists for those wanting to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights when driving at night. In “Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 2,” Michael Eldridge from Safety Glasses USA says,

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… 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.”

Any tinted lenses used during low-light conditions will reduce visibility even further because while they darken oncoming headlights, they also darken total surroundings as well making driving less-than safe. Instead, do what you can to eliminate any sources of night vision problems as discussed in “Shedding some Light on Night Driving Challenges, Part  1” before deciding on other options, such as trying tinted lenses.

Low-Light Work Conditions. When working in shaded areas, at dusk, indoors and at night, workers should wear clear lenses to allow proper lighting for the job at hand. All too often, though, workers wear tinted lenses all day, every day, instead of making the switch when necessary.

For up-close work, working in a trench, tight proximity work, using power tools, etc. You should be wearing clear lenses. It’s not a fashion show, it’s a work site,” says John Meola, safety consultant with Invincia Insurance Solutions in Chesterfield, VA in “Ten Tips to Prevent the Construction-Accident High Season.

Fortunately, Safety glasses with interchangeable lenses provide the perfect solution for workers who may spend a great deal of time working in the sun but who also have tasks to perform in low-light conditions.

Constantly-Changing Situations. Some work situations require moving from an outside to an inside environment and back again regularly. Those few moments with a dramatic change in lighting can produce unsafe conditions without the proper safety eyewear. The best options in these situations are NOT transition lenses, however, as many believe.

Photochromic lenses should rarely be authorized since the rate of tint change is too slow to allow movement into and out of buildings where eye injury hazards exist.” (Safety Glasses and Tinted Lenses)

Instead, ANSI recommends using flip-up lenses attached to safety glasses, giving wearers an almost instantaneous view of their surroundings whether inside or outside in the sun.

For sure, individuals exposed to sunlight while working should protect their eyes with tinted safety sunglasses having 99.9% UV protection. But often, situations require using a clear lens to allow for better visibility and thus a safer working situation. Take time to understand when tinted lenses are not the best option and to find a suitable alternative for your specific situation.

The Heart Health and Eye Health Connection

Eye HealthOur bodies give us many external indications of internal conditions. The ways our eyes show the health of our hearts provide one terrific example of this. In celebration of Heart Health Month, let’s explore this connection further as well as consider how keeping eyes healthy contributes to a healthier heart.

High blood pressure and diabetes cause damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including to those in the eyes. For this reason, eye doctors may be able to sight a heart problem by examining the retina during a routine eye exam. So, not only can a regular eye exam lead to early detection of eye diseases such as glaucoma, Harvard Health says it can also lead to early detection of deeper problems such as a variety of heart problems as well as diabetes.

Because only a trained ocular physician can see many indications of the more serious problems, regular, comprehensive eye exams are essential. By age 40, everyone should have a comprehensive eye exam that checks for systemic problems as indicated by the eyes. Those with a family history of eye disease should receive them sooner rather than later.

While some of the more serious diseases can only be seen through eye examination by a trained physician, there are some eye indications that everyone should be aware of an on the lookout for.

What Your Eyes Say About Your Heart also includes signs that anyone can see. Those signs include bloody or bulging eyes, droopy eyelid, rings on the cornea and thickening eyelid. These and many other visual clues can be indications of a slew of more significant problems such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease and hereditary disorders.

Additional connection between eye health and heart health lies with the importance of healthy lifestyle for both heart and eyes. Turns out that what is healthy for the eyes, is healthy for the heart and vice versa. In fact, you can Put Your Eyes On A Diet as well as Exercise Your Eyes and at the same time receive whole-body benefit, including a tremendous benefit for your heart.

So, keeping eyes healthy goes well beyond maintaining and keeping optimal vision. Begin by taking care of your eyes through simple steps such as protecting them from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing quality sunglasses and safety sunglasses. Doing so gives you and your doctor yet another tool for fighting heart disease and heading off potential problems early and enjoying healthy eyes and heart throughout your lifetime.

A Lesson from Anderson Cooper – Your Eyes CAN Get Sunburned!

As 60 Minutes Correspondent and CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper recently discovered, a person’s eyes really can get sunburned. Cooper suffered blindness in late November 2012 resulting from exposing his eyes to the sun’s harmful UV rays without wearing proper UV protection.

Cooper told CBS This Morning that he experienced 36 hours of blindness after a day of filming in Portugal for a piece for 60-Minutes. Because Cooper was filming on water, the sun reflecting off the water “burned” his eyes, which resulted in his temporary blindness.

On his show Anderson Live, Cooper described the ordeal this way: “I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs and I think, oh maybe I have sand in my eyes or something. I douse my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. I went blind for 36 hours.”

Ophthalmologists have stated that Cooper likely suffered from a retinal burn or solar keratitis, which is a burn to the surface of the eye. While solar keratitis usually heals within a few days, a retinal burn usually takes 3-6 months to heal.

Interestingly, Cooper also said the day was overcast and he was only exposed for two hours.

Solar Keratitis and retinal burn can also be caused by staring straight into the sun or looking at a solar eclipse. Surfers and skiers, really anyone spending extended periods of time on water or snow, are especially susceptible to solar karatitis.

How do you know if your eyes are sunburned?

The symptoms of eye sunburn may not show up right away, as was Cooper’s case, and can include blurred vision, pain, redness, tearing, and vision loss. Sunburned eyes also will likely feel gritty or sandy. Should you have any of these symptoms, see your eye doctor right away. Your ophthalmologist will likely treat sunburn of the eye with lubrication and an eye patch. And, as already noted, your eyes will simply need time to heal.

What can we learn from Anderson Cooper’s blindness?

  1. Wear sunglasses whenever you are exposed to UV rays. Experts, such as those at the University of Houston, stress the importance of wearing protective eyewear even on cloudy days. Cooper’s experience clearly shows that eyes can be damaged even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.
  2. Wear quality sunglasses. And, just as important, be sure to wear the right kind of sunglasses. Dr. Natasha Hertz, ophthalmologist at Washington Advent Hospital, recommends sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection with UVB protection being the key. Not sure where to buy sunglasses that you know will protect your eyes? Check out these sunglasses and safety sunglasses from your favorite name brands.
  3. Regular exposure of the eyes to the sun can have long-term effects. Those affects include cataracts, macular degeneration, benign eye growths, and skin cancer around the eyes. While Cooper has completely recovered from the sunburn of his eyes, only time will tell if he will suffer any long-term effects.

A Vision Counsel survey discovered that 73% of adults wear sunglasses at least some of the time, but only 58% make their kids wear them too. The counsel said that the reasons people do not wear sunglasses whenever they are exposed to UV rays is that, mostly, they forget. About 14% of people said they don’t wear them because they lose or break their sunglasses often.

The Vision Counsel’s report also said that about 20% of people surveyed said they don’t believe their eyes are at risk from sun exposure. And even if people do believe the sun can damage their eyes, many fail to realize the cumulative effects the sun can have on eyes over a person’s lifetime.

Hopefully, Cooper’s experience can help people see that exposing eyes to UV rays, even on cloudy days, not only damages eyes cumulatively over a person’s lifetimebut can seriously impact a person’s ability to see anything at all.

Related Reading:

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

How to Remember to Wear Sunglasses