May 11, 2016

May Focus is Vision Health: See the Summer Light Right

Summer’s here at last, and Albertans are spending more time outdoors. To keep your peepers peeping properly, optometrists recommend that you always wear sunglasses outside, even on cloudy days. This is especially important for seniors because sunlight exposure can cause cataracts, which can lead to vision loss. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in seniors; it may also be linked to sunlight exposure.

With so many kinds of sunglasses available, it can sometimes be difficult to separate fashion from function when buying them. Here are some helpful hints for choosing the safest sunglasses for your eyes.

UVs and ABCs
The sun emits three kinds of UV light.
• UVC has the highest energy, but the ozone layer fully absorbs it.
• UVB has less energy than UVC, but it’s only partially absorbed. This light can damage the surface of your eyes.
• UVA isn’t absorbed by the atmosphere. It can damage the deep tissue of your eyes.

When choosing sunglasses, look for lenses that block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB or have a UV400 rating.

Polarized Lenses
A polarized lens is one with a special filter to reduce the glare from surfaces that reflect light such as water or the road. Although a polarized lens doesn’t protect the eye from more UV light than a non-polarized lens, it can reduce glare and make your eyes feel more comfortable.

Lens Colour and Tint
The colour and the amount of lens tint (dark or light) make no difference to UV protection. A gradient lens, which is darker on top than on the bottom, shields the eyes from overhead sunlight while making it easier to see or read things such as a book on the beach or the dashboard when driving.

When you go outdoors this summer, make sure you take your shades with you. They’ll look cool and help you save your vision.

For more information on vision care for seniors, see the Vision Care Info-Sheet for Seniors from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

For more posts like these, visit the Physical Wellness page.