Sell your patients on the clinical benefits of AR lenses.
When the first anti-reflective (AR) lens treatment was invented in the 1930s, the scientists who developed it likely focused on the technical and optical benefits of the process and didn’t realize some of the important clinical benefits the treatment could have for wearers. Most ECPs have a good understanding of the functionality and cosmetic benefits of AR lenses, but we typically don’t highlight or educate patients enough about the clinical benefits of them. If we did, our industry would be able to increase the percentage of AR lenses sold in the U. S. substantially.
The first clinical benefit is the most obvious: better vision. Since AR-treated lenses eliminate surface reflections, they let more light pass through the lens. This brighter world facilitates clearer vision for the lens wearer. Eliminating surface reflections provides several benefits. For example, it makes night driving more visually comfortable and safer by cutting the glare on lenses from oncoming headlights. People seeing better, especially while operating machinery, is safer for everyone. That alone should be enough to convince every lens wearer to have AR.
In today’s developed world, just about everyone is staring closely at electronic devices for hours per day. This habit is causing much more eyestrain and visual fatigue than ever before. This condition is known as digital
It has been demonstrated through multiple studies (such as Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices by the Vision Council) that the use of AR lenses during computer or handheld electronic use helps reduce digital eyestrain.
A typical occurrence in a modern ophthalmology practice is that patients are presenting with cataract symptoms at younger ages. This is because people are staying more active into their later years and using their eyesight for more activities, causing them to notice even the slightest reduction of visual sharpness or glare caused by slight or mild cataracts.
Surgery would not be the answer at this point as many would have to pay out of pocket (since they’re not yet on Medicare). The best way to cope with slight cataracts is to adjust an eyeglass lens prescription accordingly and utilize a good-quality AR lens. These lenses let more light into the eye, thereby enhancing vision. AR lenses also enhance contrast, improving the quality of the objects patients see and providing clearer vision. This is the best course of action until the crystalline lens is ready for replacement
BLUE LIGHT PROTECTION
There has been a good deal of research into the effects of blue light on the eye, and studies are indicating that there’s both a harmful and a beneficial component to it. The concern over the harmful portion is its potential link to age-related macular degeneration. Harmful blue light can also interrupt a person’s Circadian rhythms, which means that their sleep patterns will be interrupted, causing sleep deprivation. To help avoid these problems, blue light lenses are becoming popular.
One way to create lenses that reduce the amount of blue light reaching the eye is to adjust the layers of an AR lens so that it reflects the blue wavelengths you don’t want at some percentage of intensity (for example, from 380nm—450nm at 30% reflection for some products). Blue light AR lenses are becoming common for this purpose and are being manufactured by nationally branded lens casters, such as Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc., Essilor of America, Inc. (which offers products that reflect 415-455nm of blue light), HOYA Vision Care, North America and VISION EASE, as well as from local labs that have their own AR equipment.
Another way to battle blue light is to utilize a specially formulated AR coating that selectively reflects and absorbs the highest-energy wavelengths of visible light. Blue-light-reducing AR coatings, such as Super Resistant AR Blu from Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. and the Sharper Image TechShield from VSP Optics Group are becoming more popular.
With the known link to insomnia, and possibly age-related macular degeneration, it makes clinical sense to recommend AR lenses with a blue light filter.
While AR lenses help patients see more clearly and make the eyewear look like there are no lenses in the frame, these lenses have important clinical benefits that you should understand and share with your patients. The more they understand about the benefits they’ll receive from AR lenses, the more they’ll want to have them.
Mark Johnson, ABOC, NCLC, LDO, is the Director of Optical Services at Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond, VA.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc. 800-358-8258 • zeiss.com/vision-care
Essilor of America, Inc. 800-542-5668 • essilorusa.com
HOYA Vision Care, North America 877-528-1939 • hoyavision.com
Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. 800-235-5367 • seikoeyewear.com
VISION EASE 800-328-3449 • visionease.com