Sunscreen for Our Eyes: Why We Need UV Protection Lenses

Sunscreen for Our Eyes: Why We Need UV Protection

Applying sunscreen is a daily occurrence for many of us and for good reason. Overexposure to harmful UV rays can damage our skin and is even linked to skin cancer. However, we often neglect to protect our eyes from these same rays.

With the advances in vision technology, it is now easier than ever before to protect our eyes. Lens coatings like the Crizal range, which protect from UV rays in both the front and back of the lenses can be used to enhance single vision or progressive lenses. Some of the most recommended coatings include anti-reflective, scratch-resistance, anti-fog and of course, arguably the most vital of them all, UV protection.
 

What is UV radiation?

Most of us are well aware of the harmful UV radiation can do to the skin, and we, therefore, make a great deal of effort to protect it from these detrimental effects. However, few of us recognize that this same UV radiation can also damage our eyes.

While manmade sources like tanning beds, lasers and welding machines also produce UV radiation, the main source of it, is, of course, the sun. There are three forms of UV radiation:

  • UV C is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer and is therefore not considered a threat. However, we must acknowledge that due to the damage to the ozone layer this may not be the case on a permanent basis.  
  • UV A and UV B both cause damage to our skin and our eyes.

Why do we need UV protection for our eyes?

Excessive exposure to UV radiation over a brief period of time may lead to inflammation in your cornea. This is basically a ‘sunburn’ of the eye; and though the symptoms, which include red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eye, pain, sensitivity to light and an increase of tears, are unpleasant, they are mercifully temporary.

However, long-term exposure can result in increasing the risk of individual developing cataracts, retinal damage, Pterygia (visible growths on the eye) and macular degeneration.

This why we need to protect our eyes the same way we use sunscreen to protect our skin. UV protection for our eyes is absolutely essential to maintain your vision. While sunglasses seem like the obvious choice and indeed play an important role, a more effective step is to opt to protect yourself when wearing your normal glasses by ensuring that you ask for a UV protective coating on your clear lenses too.

What are UV protection lenses/glasses?

A UV coating on your clear lenses effectively blocks ultraviolet light. While regular plastic eyeglass lenses block most UV light, adding this invisible UV-blocking dye to your lenses ensures that you are 100% protected.

As the worlds’ largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses, we have long been a proponent of the idea that we should protect our eyes with the same focus and enthusiasm as we do our skins. Essilor is responsible for the development of The Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF™). This index certifies the global UV protection your lenses provide your eyes as well as the delicate skin that surrounds them. As with sunscreen, the higher the value, the greater the protection, for example E-SPF™ 50+ offers optimal UV protection outside.

Often, people mistake UV glasses for sunglasses. Though they share some similarities, there are many differences in their benefits and usability.

UV Lenses

  • Work well on sunny and cloudy days
  • UV coated lenses block 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • Most UV lenses have a UV-blocking film embedded in the lens, which prevents it from wearing off
  • One pair of glasses for outdoor and indoor, so no need to carry two pairs

Sunglasses

  • Impractical to wear when it isn’t sunny
  • Carrying around an indoor pair of glasses as well as your sunglasses is tiresome
  • Because the lenses are dark tinted, it doesn’t mean it blocks out all the rays. It is important to ensure that sunglasses block out at least 99% of the harmful UV rays
  • The UV coating on inexpensive sunglasses can wear off after time

To get the best of both worlds, you can use Transitions lenses, which adapt to light intensity, meaning you can have tinted glasses when outdoors in the sun and clear lenses in a dimly-lit room.

Never too early or too late

Parents should make sure that UV protection is applied to their children’s glasses since children’s eyes have a clearer lens making them more susceptible to UV damage.

Even if you’re currently wearing glasses that don’t have a UV coating and don’t want to change, you can have it added on.

To find out more about UV lens coatings, speak to an optician.

Want the perfect UV protection for your eyes?

Speak to your nearest optician today

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