|Crizal Prevencia No-Glare Lenses from Essilor selectively filter out harmful light while allowing beneficial light to pass through.|
|Costa’s 580 lens controls blue light, especially around the 450nm mark.|
|Nikon’s SeeCoat Blue reflects 31% of blue light.|
|PFO Global offers blue-blocking attributes on finished stock lenses with iBlu Coat.|
The harmful effects of blue light are now coming into focus. Here’s what some lens companies offer for protection.
Today, nearly everyone is exposed to harmful blue light which can be emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs. Blue light also seems to be one of the culprits in the rise of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Now, there are some technologies that can absorb blue light and others that improve contrast by reflecting blue light.
FILTERING BLUE LIGHT
Essilor of America Inc.’s Crizal‘ Prevencia™ No-Glare Lenses are designed to selectively filter out harmful light while allowing beneficial light to pass through.
A few years ago, Essilor International’s R&D team formed a partnership with the Paris Vision Institute to assess different wavelengths of the visible light spectrum and to measure their impact on retinal cells in order to accurately identify the most harmful portions of the blue light spectrum.
“Now, we’ve come up with a truly innovative product that selectively deflects the most harmful portions of blue light away from the eye on a clear lens,” says Pierre Bertrand, Essilor’s vice president of marketing.
Crizal Prevencia uses a Crizal anti-reflective (AR) lens treatment process but with an added layer at the front of the AR stack. While protection from harmful light can benefit any patient, Essilor is primarily marketing Crizal Prevencia to patients who are at risk for AMD.
Nikon Optical USA, Inc. was probably one of the first companies to consider the negative effects of blue light when its researchers, based in Japan, designed the SeeCoat Blue lens coating product.
According to Rick Davis, executive vice president, SeeCoat Blue reflects 31% of blue light within the blue light range around 380nm to 500nm. “It provides immediate benefits the patient can see as soon as they put on their new lenses-improved contrast,” states Davis. “It also reduces digital eyestrain and protects their eyes from harmful blue light.”
Davis believes patients’ awareness of the harmful effect of blue light is “probably low, similar to the awareness of the harmful effects of UV years ago, but increasing rapidly.” To educate eyecare professionals (ECPs), Nikon provides training within a practice and conducts seminars at trade shows.
PFO Global officially launched iBlu Coat™ in August 2013. “We wanted to be the first company to release finished stock lenses using blue blocking attributes,” says Alan Yuster, executive vice president of business development. iBlu Coat is an AR treatment that PFO puts on its Resolution‘ polycarbonate lenses. “We felt that for speed of delivery and value, we had to introduce it on stock lenses,” he adds.
The lens appears relatively clear but has a slight amber shade. ECPs can order the iBlu Coat version of the Resolution lens, which is priced higher than the standard Resolution lens, “but by offering it in a stock lens, the price is very competitive,” Yuster asserts. PFO’s free-form Rx lenses like identity and upgrade are also available with iBlu Coat.
PFO is marketing the product through certain buying groups for their members. “I’ve personally never seen the industry accept a product category so quickly,” Yuster concludes. “Now, almost all companies have a blue filter or blue-blocking lens for computer and cellphone needs.”
The base material of SPY Inc.’s Happy Lens™ was designed with a transmission curve to block out bad rays of UV and blue light. “Our Happy Lens enables people to see better and feel better,” says Jim Sepanek, vice president, optical. “It is a premium, polarized, and color-enhancing lens that completely blocks the sun’s harmful UV and short-wave blue light rays (‘bad rays’), while allowing in more of the sun’s beneficial long-wave blue light rays (‘good rays’),” he states. “While most premium sunglasses block both short- and long-wave blue light, the SPY Happy Lens transmits more of a specific section of long-wave blue light, which science suggests provides a positive uplift in mood.”
FILTERING OUT BLUE LIGHT
When Costa came out with 580 lens technology in 2002, it already had high-energy blue light-absorbing capabilities. “It’s not in the raw material,” asserts Renato Cappuccitti, director of Rx sales. “We add a variety of patented filters that can selectively absorb high-energy blue light up to 430nm and the majority of harsh yellow light at 580nm.” Different filters are added to the lens regardless of material whether it’s polycarbonate, Trivex‘ material, or glass. “Our technology is designed for visual clarity with the added benefit of protecting the wearer, knowing that this light is harmful,” Cappuccitti adds. “High-energy blue light causes eye fatigue and can interfere with overall visual clarity.”
Two years ago, Costa launched the 580 lens in prescription form and established an Rx lab in Daytona Beach, FL. “Although we offer other technologies, about 80% of our prescriptions are ordered with 580,” Cappuccitti states. Costa offers a series of “Lunch & Learn” programs for ECPs to discuss high-energy blue light reduction and yellow light absorption. “Patients pay a premium for this product so ECPs need to understand the features and benefits,” he concludes. “The magic is in those filters.”
Randolph Engineering, Inc.’s NexPC™ lens in HD has properties that assist in blocking out blue light. Since 1992, Randolph has made and sold a line of shooting glasses under the brand name, RE Ranger. In spring 2012, it added two additional tints to its line of colors for the RE Ranger: HD for medium light conditions, and HD Light for low light conditions.
“The HD series of lenses can do a number of things,” says Frank Robertson, Randolph’s design consultant. “They specifically enhance and contrast the target through multiple backgrounds. Certain pigments are put into the lens to redirect light coming into the eye,” he explains.
The liquid tint for HD is injection-molded into the NexPC lens material. “This HD lens has caught on very quickly,” states Mary Waszkiewicz, marketing manager. The price of the HD lens is the same as the standard RE Ranger.
VSP Optics Group offers Unity‘ lenses with BluTech‘ which, Dave Delle Donne, vice president of business development, says “are unique in that they are the only full suite of high-impact lenses that have melanin and ocular lens pigment infused into the lens at the optimal ratio. This proprietary formula mimics the eyes’ natural protection, enhances contrast, and helps relax the eyes.”
To promote UNITY lenses with BluTech, VSP provides materials for an ECP’s office as well as through social media. “Our goal is to not only educate doctors but to provide tools that help them educate their patients. We also encourage ECPs to have a conversation with patients because blue light protection is a great opportunity to increase second-pair sales,” adds Delle Donne.
With a growing number of blue light-blocking lens options available, ECPs would do well to encourage their patients to try them.
Carol Gilhawley is Senior Editor of VCPN.
|Essilor of America, Inc.
|Nikon Optical USA, Inc.
|Randolph Engineering, Inc.
|VSP Optics Group