Understanding the many elements that impact vision is the first step toward prescribing and fitting patients with the right protective sunwear.
Light is key to vison, without it we would not see. The part for eyecare professionals is to help our patients manage light to provide the best visual acuity, comfort and protection. Changing light conditions can cause a great deal of discomfort, and this is where we need to provide direction for our patients to address their specific needs with tailored and customized glasses. The goal is to present a solution that provides protection, visual acuity and comfort from morning to night.
UNDERSTANDING THE SPECTRUM
Many are not aware of the dangers of UV and blue light to their eyes. First, you should have an understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum. The entire visible light spectrum is 380-780 nanometers. UV is the part of the spectrum from 100-380nm. The UV range of 280-400nm is what is most damaging to the eyes.
• UVC at 200-275nm is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. In areas where this is being depleted there is a higher incidence of skin cancers and cataracts.
• UVB at 280-315nm causes sunburn and can damage lids, conjunctiva and the cornea. This can increase the chance of developing a pinguecula and ptergiums.
• UVA at 315-380nm will penetrate the cornea and can have effects on the crystalline lens and the interior segments. This can cause an increase in cataracts and macular degeneration. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 20% of cataracts are from overexposure to UV.
• HEV High Energy Visible light at 380-500nm is the violet/blue part of the visible spectrum and can cause harm and discomfort to the eye.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR PATIENTS
ECPs need to ask their patients if they work indoors or outside, if they are on a computer or other digital devices all day, if they hunt, fish, ski, golf or bike or pursue any other activities that will expose them. Provide solutions with photochromic lenses, anti-reflective lenses, blue light filters, mirrors, polarized lenses, tint colors and more.
The color of the lens is very important to the type of activity or sport and overall eye health. Present tinted lens samples to your patients. Even the same sport such as deep sea fishing (gray) or fishing the flats (brown) will require a different lens color for premium visibility. Yellow/orange provides the best contrast and filters blue. Gray allows for the most normal color recognition. Golfers prefer a lens color with contrast to enable them to see the course better, such as amber, brown and rose. Lenses with variable/changeable tints can be helpful as lighting conditions change throughout the day.
When trying to find the proper balance, it is seldom a one-lens-for-all approach. Photochromic lenses are a great replacement for clear lenses, but they will not solve all light issues. Tinted lenses are fashionable once again, and technology now provides different color options in photochromic lenses along with coordinating mirror coatings.
Focus on glare! Determine whether it is distracting glare, discomforting glare, disabling glare or blinding glare. Addressing the areas where patients are experiencing glare will be helpful to determine the best lens choice. Find out if the glare is coming from headlights at night and is distracting, or if it is blinding glare from looking directly into the sun during a morning or evening commute. Polarized lenses block the horizontal light reflected off a surface such as the road, snow or water. Light reflected off a horizontal plane causes glare. This could be disabling or blinding glare. Educate and show patients a demonstration of glare reduction.
Patient education is the key to providing the best option to control light. Work with your labs and vendors as they have many tools to assist with educating your patients. Stay abreast of new technology and provide in-office training. Focusing on protection will benefit you and your patients by providing the best visual experience, comfort and protection. Your office staff should wear premium lens products to help with communicating the many resources and options available when deciding the right lens for your patients.
Mary Seguiti is on the faculty of the Hillsborough Community College Opticianry Program and serves on the executive board of the National Federation of Opticianry Schools.